A Master of Public health Takes Issue With A Master Of Finance

crispydoc Uncategorized 3 Comments

Like many of us in the FI blogging space, Mr. Money Mustache is the reason my blog exists. I’ve never met Pete, but by all accounts he seems like a charismatic and responsible human being, and I have great affection for the cult he’s created. Still, something on his blog has gnawed at me for years, and I’d like to air it out.

Years ago Mr. Money Mustache was filmed riding a bike without a helmet during a media segment for Yahoo. When readers hassled him over it, he blogged about it and defended it as follows:

“About 100 people wrote me comments and emails asking me hysterically why I was seen on Yahoo wearing a fishing hat instead of a crash helmet when biking around my quiet neighborhood. The reason is because those little fear chemical bottles don’t squirt for me when I ride a bike. Because, like most things in life, it’s not worth being afraid of.”

I viewed his TEDx talk link, and I’d concede a culture of fear is keeping us from living well in many ways. But I respectfully disagree that The Man is holding you down with a bike helmet.

You don’t wear a helmet out of fear alone. You wear a helmet to reduce risk, because you love your life of abundance. And those that live the fullest lives risk losing the most.

You already reduce your risk by diversifying your portfolio holdings. You don’t complain “Jack Bogle isn’t going to frighten me with his history of market crashes and the great depression. I won’t allow his culture of fear to influence my asset allocation.” There’s a huge difference between accepting a culture of fear and incorporating a rational management of risk.

You don’t wear a helmet because your skills or acumen are unsatisfactory. You wear a helmet because the driver of the clowncar SUV is texting and veers into the bike lane. It’s a smart defensive move.

You don’t wear a helmet because The Man and his Nanny State are oppressing you. You wear it out of respect for your fellow humans and their finances, which ethically deserve to be shielded from your bad decisions.

I routinely care for patients in the ED who sustain collisions while biking without helmets. Most of them are fortunate, hobbling away neurologically intact with broken bones and wounded pride. The unlucky ones run bills of several hundred thousand dollars a year to reside in the few facilities that care for them – they live in these facilities for the rest of their lives. They cycle in and out of hospitals with pneumonia and infected bedsores.

Even a multi-million dollar nest egg runs out quickly at that rate – with rare exception, these folks end up on public assistance with you and I footing the bills for their medical care. It’s easy to hoist the banner of freedom when someone else is covering your huge down side. Please respect my stash of cash.

It’s also personal. I’ve been the unlucky schmuck in the ED who breaks it to someone’s wife and kid that he’s neurologically devastated for life after a major collision. Once is too much for this kind of experience.

This is a public service announcement, not a hatchet job. I love your cult, Pete, but I’d hate to see someone misread your ideas as license for irresponsibility.

Comments 3

  1. And if he does get whacked, he’ll be flown in a gas-guzzling helicopter to a Fancy Pants Hospital where a bunch of Fancy Pants Specialists had to drive (gasp!) to take care of him (because they don’t all live in walking/biking distance of their workplace.

    It’s a small piece of his message, but it grates on me.

    1. Post

      Interesting observation: life as a series of small but cumulative ironies and indignities.

      I don’t begrudge him the right to choose poorly, I’d just rather he not promote it as a counter-cultural statement to be emulated.

  2. The whole thing is page view schmooze. It’s not countercultural at all, it’s marketing. Mr. Money McGuyver Mountain Man Marketing Mustache. It should be titled Mugging for Moolah. I was over at GCC and he had his wife all dolled up in a hazmat suit while she was making soap! Bet he saved 60 cents. Wonder what the environmental footprint of soap making is? Catch ya later, I gotta go kill a few squirrels for dinner.

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