Jon Stewart Sends Up The Lies and Deceit of the Personal Finance Industry

Ever feel like you might—just might—be able to get rich, if only you were better at denying yourself that Venti Caramel Macchiato and buying the right bonds? Just a little more scrimping here, and investing there? You definitely heard it somewhere, on television maybe, that you could invest your way to success if only you knew how it worked….


This idea, to be frank, is a load of crap, explains investigative journalist Helaine Olen. She’s the recent author of Pound Foolish, a searing expose of the personal finance industry. Last night on the Daily Show, Olen and Stewart chatted about the dark side of this industry—the dark side being, as Stewart quips, the only side.

Olen explains how decades of income stagnation have created a society in which more than half of Americans can barely get by on their income. But instead of raising wages—amidst applause from the audience, she advocated for a minimum wage increase—the 1% instead cooked up the everyman’s investment myth, the idea that everyone can get rich through their investments.

She explains, “We have 50 percent of population saying they’re living paycheck to paycheck, and now we have this whole industry of people saying, ‘Hey! Follow me!’ instead of us saying, ‘We have 50 percent of the population can’t get by. What’s wrong with our society?’”

At the crux of her argument is the simple idea that we need to re-create a society that values actual work as much as theoretical investments.

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