Monday, April 10, 2017

Dissecting the Worst Infographic Ever

Over the weekend, during a scroll through Tumblr, I happened upon a post mocking what has to be the worst infographic I've ever seen. Not in terms of visual design (though that is also not great), but in terms of what the fuck are you even talking about. Now I have to tear it apart piece by piece. Just kidding, I'm happy too.

Let's start with the premise of this infographic. It's called "How You Can Build Wealth on the Minimum Wage." It was created by a white dude named Jeff who has titled himself a "Visual Capitalist." In other words, the alternate title for this article could be "Rich White Dude Tells the Poors How Not to Be Lazy Poors."

First, the inforgraphic starts by telling the audience what the federal minimum wage is. This should tell you something about who the intended audience for this piece really is.

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Then it goes to to richsplain that being wealthy isn't about owning mansions or private jets, because you can own both of these and still be "broke"! Don't worry about the fact that mansions and jets are assets that can be sold for money and you, a poor, have nothing of value. We'll tell you what wealth is.

Also, does that guy have face tattoos? What kind of racist "lol black rappers are always going broke from buying jets" shit is this?

Next, the "10 Steps to Build Wealth While on Minimum Wage" doesn't start out well. Because number one is moving to a new area where it's cheaper to live.

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What a novel idea. Move to a place where rent is cheaper. Unfortunately, despite this being step #1, Jeff does not explain where in the fUCK YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO GET THE MONEY FOR MOVING EXPENSES.

I live in the Seattle area, one of the most expensive places to live. All the cheapest places are in the other half of the country. How am I even supposed to rent an apartment from over here, let alone move all my shit over there, if I'm currently working on the minimum wage and broke as hell?

My guess is that Jeff has never had to think for a second about conundrums like these, because he's never been poor or anything close to it. So yeah, not a good start.

Full disclosure, this caused some screaming and frantic laughter in my apartment, culminating in me sending desperate all-caps tweets to Jeff's company account begging him to tell me how to get the money to move so that I could follow his plan to stop being a dirty poor.

He has not responded. Maybe he's on vacation? Anyway. We're not even close to done.

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Here you have the "excuses" people make for not magically moving potentially thousands of miles to live in a cheap city. Notice "I don't have the money to move" is not on the list. Instead it's a set of three statements designed to make poor people sound whiny but actually contain a myriad of possibilities not mentioned. My favorite is "all my friends and family live here." Awwww poor whiny lazy poor person, FUCK your family. If you don't move away from everyone you know and love then it's YOUR FAULT that you're poor.

And that point is hammered home in that last sentence, which is bolded. "It's your choice to make." Get it, you dirty poors? If you're poor, it's because you choose to be. Never mind that you might need to live near family because they take care of your kids while you work. Or you love your job because you actually found a place that will be flexible with your schedule or give you benefits that you desperately need. Or that you love living in your area because it's not hostile to your race, gender identity, or sexuality.

None of the millions of possible factors that could contribute to you not wanting/being able to move matter. It's your choice, poors.

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The next step is related to #1, and conveniently shows just how limited your options are if you want to move. An "affordable city" would have to be not much more expensive than the top 10 cheapest cities on the list they give in #1, with the cheapest monthly rent being $512. But don't worry, you can always get a roommate for your tiny apartment! If you don't have kids!

I also love how Jeff does you the favor of some simple math there at the bottom. What the fuck is anyone supposed to do with $600 per year? That's not even enough to cover vehicle repairs. But wait!

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That's right. Sell your car. Buy a shitty bike. And move (again?) within biking distance of work.

So let me get this straight, Jeff. You want me to move somewhere with apartments that are $600 per month. AND you want me to move somewhere with jobs and infrastructure that allows for bike travel.

If living in the city is invariably more expensive than living outside of the city where it's cheaper, but you have to be within biking distance of work, that leaves....

Nothing. Nowhere. There is nowhere that works out.

This is how it is: Places that have jobs are more expensive to live in. Places that are cheap to live in have no jobs. I would have loved to stay in Bellingham where I could get a 2-bedroom apartment for $750 per month, but I had to move back to Seattle because there was no work to be found in Bellingham. 

Plus, there are other things you might need your car for. You can't sell your fucking car if you have children. Unless this entire infographic assumes you're childless, it doesn't even come close to working. But even if you don't have kids, it doesn't work, as we've already seen. And it keeps getting worse.

#4 is "cancel your cable and get Netflix," which at least is a possible thing to do, but every poor person has already done that, so thanks for nothing, Jeff. None of us are out here working minimum wage and spending $80 per month for premium cable, asshole.

This is one of my favorites:

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Passing by the fact that poor people often already don't eat out hardly ever, unless you count cheap fast food, which they get because they're exhausted from all the work they have to do just to get by and don't have the time or energy to cook even though they likely already know how. And that they already often only eat vegetables that are in season because that's when they're cheapest, if they eat vegetables much at all. What gets me is "buy food in bulk."

You JUST told us to sell our cars and use bikes instead. That was a huge part of your plan, Jeff. But another reason that people have cars is that many of the cheap places to live are also food desserts. The closest Walmart might be 10 or more miles away, let alone a real bulk food store like Costco. And then what are you supposed to do? Rickshaw your giant bags of rice and beans home? Where are you supposed to get the money for a rickshaw??? JEFF.

And then there's the extra slap in the face that is "on sale" in bold. Us poors are so terrible at everything that we can't even figure out that things that are on sale are cheaper, right Jeff? Never would have thought about buying stuff when it's cheaper. Thanks.

I once tried to live on a $100 per month for food budget and it was not easy, and that was just for me. Again, if you have kids, you're fucked.

And the final problem with step 5 is that they fucked up the math. Somehow the money leftover goes back up to $6,915 when in #4 it's down to $6,515. Seriously, everything about this infographic is terrible.

I'm already exhausted. But we're only halfway through. Okay.

This next one once again demonstrates that Jeff has never been poor and doesn't know what the fuck he's talking about.

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First of all, this step depends on the Republicans controlling the entire federal government right now not trashing Obamacare. Second, if you're poor, a high deductible plan can still easily bankrupt you. Do you not even know what a deductible is? Also, this assumes that someone working minimum wage isn't already on a shitty, cheap insurance plan. If they're not on nothing, I can assure you they're not on a plan that costs them $6,000 per year unless they really need to be. This is a useless step that saves nobody money.

At least that missing $400 from #5 seems to reappear here somehow?

#7 is another thing that us poors already do. Thriftshops and sewing? Gee, thanks Jeff!

#8 is "Rediscover the Fact That a Lot of the Best Things in Life Are Free." In other words, you're not allowed to have any actual fun if you're poor. Let's go down the list of things recommended in this shit infographic.

  • Have a picnic in a public park - with your bulk rice and beans. Maybe you can cook them in a tin can over a trash can fire.
  • Go for a bike ride - after you spent all week going to and from work on your fucking bike.
  • Do yoga outdoors - because that's fun?
  • Play sports at the community center - if it exists in your shitty cheap town and within biking distance.
  • Read at your public local library - see above.
  • Learn DIY skills on YouTube - but don't spend any money on the materials you need to actually do those things.
  • Start a blog - I'm too tired from this one infographic to start ANOTHER blog, Jeff.
  • Play old board games - because those don't cost money.
  • Take a hike - in your flat cheap midwest town, if you're not too exhausted from all the biking.
  • Call an old friend - because you had to move away from all your friends.

According to this infographic, you're then left with $3,811 to invest with, which is step 9. This, of course, assumes that you had no other expenses than what was listed. That phone plan you used to call your old friends is missing. There's no money for utilities because Jeff thinks you can magically get that covered in your $600 per month rent. Don't even think about having medical expenses or having to repair your used bike. And don't miss a single day of work. Definitely don't have kids.

Here's how to invest all that money:

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Pay of your credit card debt, of which there's probably a lot now because there's no budget for any kind of debt payments in here. Establish some kind of "emergency fund" if you managed to go an entire year without an emergency and that will be completely inadequate if you crash you bike/rickshaw and have to take a single trip to the emergency room. And don't forget to open a retirement account, because you're not becoming financially independent until you're old lol.

After that, Jeff wraps the inforgraphic up with a final wave of incompetence that renders the entire premise of this bullshit pointless.

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Go to school! To upgrade your skills! And then get a job that pays above minimum wage. The next bit of the infographic then shows how you can become "wealthy" (read: saving up enough money to live your shitty pathetic $10,300 per year life for another 27 years) in just 10 years! But only if you're earning $32,000 per year, which means making more than double the minimum wage.

I'm sorry, I thought this was "10 Steps to Build Wealth While on Minimum Wage," not "10 Steps to Save Up for College So You Can Eventually Get a Job That Makes You Enough Money to Get a Decent Amount to Retire On if You Spend the Entire Rest of Your Life Living in Squalor."

Or, if you can't get a job that pays you that much, just drive for Uber on the side. WITH YOUR BIKE.

And that, dear readers, is the worst infographic I've ever seen. Every single step is a minimum insulting at at worst makes zero sense and/or contradicts previous steps. And that's after starting from the very beginning on a huge flaw, which is that MOVING COSTS MONEY.

But it can't resist ending itself on that burning pile of ashes. It has to kick you while you're down, on the ground, dead from cry-laughing.

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Remember, poorsies, REMEMBER. If you're poor, it's YOUR FAULT. I know I spent god knows how many hours essentially demonstrating that it's utterly impossible to gain any measure of wealth on the minimum wage, even by the definition of wealth that I pulled out of my ass for the benefit of this shit infographic. But SOMEHOW, you can make it happen. And because of that, the rest of us who are actually wealthy never have to do anything to help you.


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