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Education

A story about two pairs of boots illustrates how rich people get richer in ways poor people can't

It’s got nothing to do with bootstraps.

wealth, boots, Terry Pratchett, bootstraps, money, poor
Photo by Maxim Hopman on Unsplash

The Sam Vimes "Boots" Theory of Socioeconomic Unfairness explains one way the rich get richer.

Any time conversations about wealth and poverty come up, people inevitably start talking about boots.

The standard phrase that comes up is "pull yourself up by your bootstraps," which is usually shorthand for "work harder and don't ask for or expect help." (The fact that the phrase was originally used sarcastically because pulling oneself up by one's bootstraps is literally, physically impossible is rarely acknowledged, but c'est la vie.) The idea that people who build wealth do so because they individually work harder than poor people is baked into the American consciousness and wrapped up in the ideal of the American dream.

A different take on boots and building wealth, however, paints a more accurate picture of what it takes to get out of poverty.



Author Terry Pratchett is no longer with us, but his writing lives on and is occasionally shared on his official social media accounts. Recently, his Twitter page shared the "Sam Vimes 'Boots' Theory of Socioeconomic Unfairness" from Pratchett's 1993 book "Men At Arms." This boots theory explains that one reason the rich are able to get richer is because they are able to spend less money.

If that sounds confusing, read on:

Pratchett wrote:

"The reason that the rich were so rich, Vimes reasoned, was because they managed to spend less money.

Take boots, for example. He earned thirty-eight dollars a month plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots cost fifty dollars. But an affordable pair of boots, which were sort of OK for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the cardboard gave out, cost about ten dollars. Those were the kind of boots Vimes always bought, and wore until the soles were so thin that he could tell where he was in Ankh-Morpork on a foggy night by the feel of the cobbles.

But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that’d still be keeping his feet dry in ten years’ time, while the poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet."

In other words, people who have the money to spend a little more upfront often end up spending less in the long run. A $50 pair of boots that last five years essentially cost you $10 a year. But if you can only afford $10 upfront for a pair of boots that last six months, that's what you buy—and you end up paying twice as much over a five-year period.

There are so many areas in which this principle applies when you're poor. Buying in bulk saves you money over the long run, but you have to be able to afford the bulk cost up front. A reliable car that doesn't require regular repairs will cost more than a beater, but if the beater is all you can afford, that's what you're stuck with. You'll likely spend the same or more over time than if you'd bought a newer/higher quality car, but without the capital (or the credit rating) to begin with, you don't have much choice.

People who can afford larger down payments pay lower interest rates, saving them money both immediately and in the long run. People who can afford to buy more can spend more with credit cards, pay off the balances, build up good credit and qualify for lower interest rate loans.

There are lots of good financial decisions and strategies one can utilize if one has the ability to build up some cash. But if you are living paycheck to paycheck, you can't.

Climbing the financial ladder requires getting to the bottom rung first. Those who started off anywhere on the ladder can make all kinds of pronouncements about how to climb it—good, sound advice that really does work if you're already on the ladder. But for people living in poverty, the bottom rung is just out of reach, and the walls you have to climb to get to it are slippery. It's expensive to be poor.

When people talk about how hard it is to climb out of poverty, this is a big part of what they mean. Ladder-climbing advice is useless if you can't actually get to the ladder. And yet, far too many people decry offering people assistance that might help them reach the ladder so they can start taking advantage of all that great financial advice. Why? Perhaps because they were born somewhere on the ladder—even if it was the bottom rung—and aren't aware that there are people for whom the ladder is out of reach. Or perhaps they're unaware of how expensive it is to be poor and how the costs of poverty keep people stuck in the pit. Hopefully, this theory will help more people understand and sympathize with the reality of being poor.

Money makes money, but having money also saves you money. The more money you have, the more wealth you're able to build not only because you have extra money to save, but also because you buy higher quality things that last, therefore spending less in the long run. (There's also the reality that the uber-wealthy will pay $5,000 for shoes they'll only wear a few times, but that's a whole other kind of boots story.)

Thanks, Terry Pratchett, for the simple explanation.


This story originally appeared on 01.28.22

Sponsored

3 organic recipes that feed a family of 4 for under $7 a serving

O Organics is the rare brand that provides high-quality food at affordable prices.

A woman cooking up a nice pot of pasta.

Over the past few years, rising supermarket prices have forced many families to make compromises on ingredient quality when shopping for meals. A recent study published by Supermarket News found that 41% of families with children were more likely to switch to lower-quality groceries to deal with inflation.

By comparison, 29% of people without children have switched to lower-quality groceries to cope with rising prices.

Despite the current rising costs of groceries, O Organics has enabled families to consistently enjoy high-quality, organic meals at affordable prices for nearly two decades. With a focus on great taste and health, O Organics offers an extensive range of options for budget-conscious consumers.

O Organics launched in 2005 with 150 USDA Certified Organic products but now offers over 1,500 items, from organic fresh fruits and vegetables to organic dairy and meats, organic cage-free certified eggs, organic snacks, organic baby food and more. This gives families the ability to make a broader range of recipes featuring organic ingredients than ever before.


“We believe every customer should have access to affordable, organic options that support healthy lifestyles and diverse shopping preferences,” shared Jennifer Saenz, EVP and Chief Merchandising Officer at Albertsons, one of many stores where you can find O Organics products. “Over the years, we have made organic foods more accessible by expanding O Organics to every aisle across our stores, making it possible for health and budget-conscious families to incorporate organic food into every meal.”

With some help from our friends at O Organics, Upworthy looked at the vast array of products available at our local store and created some tasty, affordable and healthy meals.

Here are 3 meals for a family of 4 that cost $7 and under, per serving. (Note: prices may vary by location and are calculated before sales tax.)

O Organic’s Tacos and Refried Beans ($6.41 Per Serving)

Few dishes can make a family rush to the dinner table quite like tacos. Here’s a healthy and affordable way to spice up your family’s Taco Tuesdays.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Total time: 22 minutes

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 packet O Organics Taco Seasoning ($2.29)

O Organics Mexican-Style Cheese Blend Cheese ($4.79)

O Organics Chunky Salsa ($3.99)

O Organics Taco Shells ($4.29)

1 can of O Organics Refried Beans ($2.29)

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Add 1 packet of taco seasoning to beef along with water [and cook as directed].

3. Add taco meat to the shell, top with cheese and salsa as desired.

4. Heat refried beans in a saucepan until cooked through, serve alongside tacos, top with cheese.

tacos, o organics, family recipesO Organics Mexican-style blend cheese.via O Organics

O Organics Hamburger Stew ($4.53 Per Serving)

Busy parents will love this recipe that allows them to prep in the morning and then serve a delicious, slow-cooked stew after work.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 7 hours

Total time: 7 hours 15 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 ½ lbs O Organics Gold Potatoes ($4.49)

3 O Organics Carrots ($2.89)

1 tsp onion powder

I can O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 cups water

1 yellow onion diced ($1.00)

1 clove garlic ($.50)

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2 tsp Italian seasoning or oregano

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Transfer the cooked beef to a slow cooker with the potatoes, onions, carrots and garlic.

3. Mix the tomato paste, water, salt, pepper, onion powder and Italian seasoning in a separate bowl.

4. Drizzle the mixed sauce over the ingredients in the slow cooker and mix thoroughly.

5. Cover the slow cooker with its lid and set it on low for 7 to 8 hours, or until the potatoes are soft. Dish out into bowls and enjoy!

potatoes, o organics, hamburger stewO Organics baby gold potatoes.via O Organics


O Organics Ground Beef and Pasta Skillet ($4.32 Per Serving)

This one-pan dish is for all Italian lovers who are looking for a saucy, cheesy, and full-flavored comfort dish that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Total time: 27 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp dried basil

1 tsp garlic powder

1 can O Organics Diced Tomatoes ($2.00)

1 can O Organics Tomato Sauce ($2.29)

1 tbsp O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 1/4 cups water

2 cups O Organics Rotini Pasta ($3.29)

1 cup O Organics Mozzarella cheese ($4.79)

Instructions:

1. Brown ground beef in a skillet, breaking it up as it cooks.

2. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder

3. Add tomato paste, sauce and diced tomatoes to the skillet. Stir in water and bring to a light boil.

4. Add pasta to the skillet, ensuring it is well coated. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Remove the lid, sprinkle with cheese and allow it to cool.

o organics, tomato basil pasta sauce, olive oilO Organics tomato basil pasta sauce and extra virgin olive oil.via O Organics

Marcos Alberti's "3 Glasses" project began with a joke and a few drinks with his friends.

The photo project originally depicted Alberti's friends drinking, first immediately after work and then after one, two, and three glasses of wine.

But after Imgur user minabear circulated the story, "3 Glasses" became more than just a joke. In fact, it went viral, garnering more than 1 million views and nearly 1,800 comments in its first week. So Alberti started taking more pictures and not just of his friends.



"The first picture was taken right away when our guests (had) just arrived at the studio in order to capture the stress and the fatigue after a full day after working all day long and from also facing rush hour traffic to get here," Alberti explained on his website. "Only then fun time and my project could begin. At the end of every glass of wine, a snapshot, nothing fancy, a face and a wall, 3 times."

Why was the series so popular? Anyone who has ever had a long day at work and needed to "wine" down will quickly see why.

Take a look:

Photos of person after drinking glasses of win

All photos by Marcos Alberti, used with permission.

assets.rebelmouse.io

Photos of person after drinking glasses of win

assets.rebelmouse.io

This article originally appeared on 11.19.16

Images provided by P&G

Three winners will be selected to receive $1000 donated to the charity of their choice.

True

Doing good is its own reward, but sometimes recognizing these acts of kindness helps bring even more good into the world. That’s why we’re excited to partner with P&G again on the #ActsOfGood Awards.

The #ActsOfGood Awards recognize individuals who actively support their communities. It could be a rockstar volunteer, an amazing community leader, or someone who shows up for others in special ways.

Do you know someone in your community doing #ActsOfGood? Nominate them between April 24th-June 3rdhere.Three winners will receive $1,000 dedicated to the charity of their choice, plus their story will be highlighted on Upworthy’s social channels. And yes, it’s totally fine to nominate yourself!

We want to see the good work you’re doing and most of all, we want to help you make a difference.

While every good deed is meaningful, winners will be selected based on how well they reflect Upworthy and P&G’s commitment to do #ActsOfGood to help communities grow.

That means be on the lookout for individuals who:

Strengthen their community

Make a tangible and unique impact

Go above and beyond day-to-day work

The #ActsOfGood Awards are just one part of P&G’s larger mission to help communities around the world to grow. For generations, P&G has been a force for growth—making everyday products that people love and trust—while also being a force for good by giving back to the communities where we live, work, and serve consumers. This includes serving over 90,000 people affected by emergencies and disasters through the Tide Loads of Hope mobile laundry program and helping some of the millions of girls who miss school due to a lack of access to period products through the Always #EndPeriodPoverty initiative.

Visit upworthy.com/actsofgood and fill out the nomination form for a chance for you or someone you know to win. It takes less than ten minutes to help someone make an even bigger impact.

Family

Two girl dads debate on which public bathroom they should take their daughters into

These dads disagreed on whether the women's of men's bathroom was best. So they asked TikTok to weigh in.

@djdrewski/TikTok

It’s a dilemma every girl dad must eventually face—choosing whether to take their daughters into the women’s bathroom, or the men’s. Sure, some places (more and more these days) have all-gender or family bathrooms with changing stations, but generally speaking those are far and few between.

Recently, DJ Drewski found himself and his brother—a fellow girl dad—facing this common predicament, and each father had a different opinion on which bathroom was the correct choice. So, Drewski thought he might settle the debate on TikTok.

“So two girl dads in Disney, we're in Disney World right now,” Drewski begins. “As a girl dad, I bring my daughter into the men's room, of course, into a stall in that bathroom. My brother brings his daughter into the female restroom. The women's restroom. We don't know which is the right way to do it or how women feel.”

@djdrewski As a “Girl Dad” which restroom are you supoose to use with your toddler DAUGHTER in public places??? #question #girldad #toddlersoftiktok #disney ♬ original sound - DJ Drewski

Where Drewski “doesn’t feel comfortable’ going into the women’s restroom, his brother argued that the women’s room is cleaner, and therefore better suited for his daughter. The second opinion matched the rationale of a girl dad Upworthy covered back in 2021, who lamented that “Men's bathrooms are DISGUSTING. They smell like pee and nothing is set up for a woman or a person with a child.”

Other moms seemed to share a preference for dad’s entering the women restroom, so long as they announce they’re coming in.

“Women’s rest room just yell girl dad coming in,” one person commented

Another said, “Ladies will accept you, just announce yourself. If any ladies give you trouble, they obviously don't have kids. Ignore them.”

However, folks weren’t vehemently opposed to taking daughter’s into the men’s room.

“As a Girl Dad... men's room straight to a stall... never have I ever had any issues .. lol” one viewer quipped.

Another shared, “My dad used to bring me to the guys bathroom and have me close my eyes until we got into the stall! Never was a problem to me or my mom ! Whatever you prefer I think.”

And of course, another viewer added that it sure would be nice to “normalize” changing tables in men’s rooms as well.

It’s clear that each of these dads are trying to do what’s best for their daughters, and are willing to have open conversations about how to best go about it. That’s perhaps the biggest and best takeaway of all here, regardless of which bathroom they choose. Just wash those hands!

Pop Culture

Man's seemingly obvious 'dishwasher hack' is blowing everyone's minds

One man’s observation about his dishwasher may change the way you do dishes forever.

Mike McLoughlan realized something very important about his dishwasher.

No one likes doing the dishes, but the tedious chore is made much easier when using a dishwasher. However, an alarming amount of people have reported that their dishwashers can actually make the job harder because they don't properly fit their dishes.

And that's where Twitter user Mike McLoughlin (@zuroph) comes in.

Back in January, McLoughlin made an observation about his dishwasher that would change the way he does dishes forever. For a decade, the Irishman thought that the bottom rack of his washer simply was too small for his large dinner plates. Then he made an amazing discovery:


The tweet went totally viral, and was shared over 14,000 times. He even tweeted a picture to show just how much he could fit in the dishwasher now that he knows the racks are adjustable:

The "hack" (is it still called a hack if the appliance is doing what it is supposed to be doing?) blew people's minds:

But other people were basically like, "Seriously, dude?"

While a group of others tried to one-up McLoughlin with stories of their own:


Okay, go on and check your own dishwasher. You know you want to.


This article first appeared on 8.16.18.

A husband admitted he tended to "trust" his mom's parenting advice more than his wife's.

A dad who goes by @sergey.be.be on TikTok reached out to viewers in hopes of better navigating a perpetual argument with his wife.

In the clip, he shared that his wife is “frequently offended” that he seeks advice from his mother on how to raise their daughter. But since his mom has had “experience raising three children” compared to his wife’s first time at motherhood, he “tends to trust” mom’s advice more.

Unsurprisingly, this has led to frequent quarrels, and has persisted after the baby was born.


The dad went on to explain that, unlike his mother, his wife “insists she knows everything, suggesting we can always look things up on Google if needed.”

He then offered this example: “when I inquired about swaddling for our newborn, my mother recommended swaddling with straightened legs because if you don't swaddle your baby, his legs will be crooked, while my wife disagreed, saying it was a thing of the past."

@sergey.be.be My wife is frequently offended when I seek advice from my mother regarding raising our daughter. Our differing opinions have led to frequent quarrels. How can I navigate this situation? #newborn #momanddaughter #baby #babylove ♬ Surrender - Natalie Taylor

Well, not taking sides here, but a quick Google search does in fact list several resources which state that straight-leg swaddling is, in fact, not recommended, and considered potentially harmful. So it’s understandable that this man’s wife might be frustrated that her husband actively chooses his mother’s objectively inaccurate opinion over her own research.

Viewers unanimously agreed with this sentiment, though the responses ranged somewhere between gentle and brutally blunt.

“I guess he is TRYING to get divorced,” one person wrote.

Another quipped, “You should marry your mom 💕 hope this helps!”

Others tried to help illuminate the wife’s point of view, and point out why this husband’s action might be so upsetting.

“Your wife probably did HOURs, DAYS MONTHS of researching the current safe ways of doing things,” one person argued. “If you aren't’ going to trust her, at least ask to read what she’s reading so you can get insight. Then, if after reading you still have doubts, talk to your wife. Do not bring up your mom’s opinion.”

Another reasoned, “that’s like her asking her dad how you should be a father.”

Professionals also weighed in. A NICU nurse wrote, “things have changed in the last 3 years alone. Your mother doesn’t know. This is the woman you chose, learn and grow with her.”

And finally, I think this warning from a couples therapist really sums it all up: “prioritize your new family over your old family.”

If this man was indeed seeking advice (and not justification for his actions) then he certainly got what he asked for. Either way, the conversation can hopefully help put things into perspective for others.

Lunch looks a lot different outside of the U.S.

For those of us who grew up in the United States eating lunch in a cafeteria, the idea of looking at a bunch of trays of school food may be less than compelling. But what's surprisingly interesting, however, is what children from the rest of the world are eating instead. Check out these common lunch dishes from around the globe and let us know they seem accurate.

The photos were part of a project entitled "School Lunches Around the World" by Sweetgreen In Schools, a program "that educates kids about healthy eating, fitness, and sustainability through fun, hands-on activities."

This article originally appeared on 10.30.17