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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

There was a time when every other girl was named Ashley. That time has ended.

As we know, baby name trends are constantly changing. One generation’s Barbara is another generation’s Bethany. But it doesn’t make it any less odd when you suddenly realize that your very own name has suddenly made it into the “old and unhip” pile. And for many of us 80s babies…that time is now.

In a now-viral TikTok post, baby name consultant Colleen Slagen went through the top 100 girl names from 1986 to find which ones “did not age well” and were no longer ranked top 1,000 today. Such a descent from popularity would mark them as what she calls “timestamp names.”

Spoiler alert: what might be even more surprising than the names now considered old school are the names that are still going strong.


The first name that Slagen says is “officially out” is Heather. That’s right, not even cult movie fame could help it keep its ranking.

via GIPHY

Other extinct names include Erica, Courtney, Lindsay, Tara, Crystal, Shannon, Brandy and Dana. Tiffany, Brittany and Casey are also heading very much in that direction.

“My name is Brandy. The Gen Z hostess at Olive Garden told me that she’d never heard my name before and it was so unique,” one viewer wrote.

However, Andrea ranks “surprisingly high,” and Jessica, Ashley and Stephanie have survived…so far.

Gobsmacked, one person asked “How is Stephanie still in there? I don’t think I’ve met a Stephanie younger than myself at 34.”

But the biggest holdout still belongs to Jennifer. “She was a top 100 name all the way up until 2008. Round of applause for Jennifer,” Slagen says in the clip.

@namingbebe Sorry Lindsay, Heather, and Courtney. #babynames #nametok #nameconsultant #girlnames #80skid #1986 #nametrend ♬ original sound - Colleen

If your name has found its way into relic of a bygone era status, fret not. Slagen, whose name also ranks out of the top 1000, assures it just means “we are creatures of the 80's.”

Of course, while we still have baby names that become incredibly common for extended periods of time (looking at you, little Liam and Olivia), the real contemporary trend is going for uniqueness. As an article in The Atlantic notes, for most of American history families tended to name their children after a previous family member, with the goal of blending in, rather than standing out. But now, things have changed.

Laura Wattenberg, the founder of Namerology, told the outlet that “Parents are thinking about naming kids more like how companies think about naming products, which is a kind of competitive marketplace where you need to be able to get attention to succeed.”

But again, even with a keen eye on individualism, patterns pop up. “The same thing we see in fashion trend cycles, we see in names,” Jessie Paquette, another professional baby namer, told Vox. “We’re seeing Eleanor, Maude, Edith—cool-girl grandma names.”

So who knows…give it time (or maybe just a pop song) and one of these 80s names could make a comeback.

Joy

NICU nurse adopts 14-year-old patient who delivered triplets alone

“I knew it would be impossible to find a foster home that would take all four of them. No one was going to take a teen mom and her preemie triplets.”

NICU nurse adopts teen with three babies.

Having your first baby is a scary experience. Everything is new—you've quite literally never done this before—not to mention an entire human is going to be removed from your body one way or another. Childbirth, no matter how your baby leaves your body, is not for the weak. But imagine giving birth alone to not just one baby, but three, all at the same time. Then imagine doing that feat at the age of 14.

Shariya Small experienced that scenario in a hospital in Indiana, and her nurse Katrina Mullen took note. Small's babies were premature, born at just 26 weeks, when the average gestation for triplets is 33 weeks, according to ReproductiveFacts.org. Due to their early birth, the babies, Serenitee, Samari and Sarayah, had to stay in the NICU at Community Hospital North in Indianapolis for more than five months, according to Today.com.

During their time in the NICU, Mullen noticed the young mom visited her babies alone, not appearing to have much of a support system. “She’d be there alone for days at a time sitting at her babies’ bedside,” Mullen told Today.com.


The pair got to know each other over the months that the babies were in the hospital, but Small continued to be reluctant to open up about her family life. That changed after she found out that Mullen had her first child at 16 and had given it up for adoption. Their experiences bonded the two moms, and Mullen began helping to care for the babies and Small by giving her advice and showing her how to properly care for the infants.

Eventually, Mullen gave Small her phone number before the babies were discharged from the hospital. It quickly became apparent that Small did not have a support system, as she called Mullen often asking for advice. Out of concern, the nurse went to visit Small an hour away, where she was living with a family member.

The condition of the home was concerning enough, but Mullen became even more worried when she saw how thin Small's son Samari was. It turns out he had to be admitted to the hospital, which prompted a visit from Child Protective Services, who determined that Small and her three infants would need to enter foster care. She gave the social worker Mullen's information and things began to fall into place.

Listen to Small and Mullen explain their unique story below:

This article originally appeared on 4.10.23

Joy

Shelter dog doesn't know what to do with her first toy but melts when offered affection

The stray pup's smelly, itchy skin condition didn't stop Rocky Kanaka from scooping the sweet girl into his arms.

Rocky Kanaka/YouTube (used with permission)

Katie's had a rough life so far, but she's starting to get the care she needs.

When Rocky Kanaka first met Katie, a scruffy beige Australian Shepherd mix, he thought she was a senior dog. As it turned out, the shelter pup was only about a year old. She had just been found by a good samaritan as a stray, her fur and skin in terrible shape, her paws swollen and her spirit muted. She didn't even want to look at Kanaka when he first entered the kennel to sit with her.

That all changed as he took the time to sit with her and earn her trust. Kanaka has gained a huge following on YouTube with his videos sitting with shelter dogs, and his way with them is truly inspiring. He brings his own home-baked treats and a huge amount of patience and compassion, helping abandoned animals learn that humans can be kind and caring companions.

Katie is one of many dogs Kanaka has visited, and her behavior in the kennel showed him that she hadn't had much of a chance in her short life to learn how to be a dog.


For instance, when Kanaka offered her a stuffed unicorn to play with, she didn't know what to do with it. He tried a squeaky toy, which she also didn't know what to do with and found overwhelming after a few squeaks. She took Kanaka's treats, but not immediately and not in the way a dog who understands the concept of treats would.

But throughout the video, the stray pup responded to Kanaka's affection and love by melting right into it. She even wanted to sit in his lap toward the end, but didn't seem to know how. Kanaka scooped her up, despite the foul smell her skin condition created, and it's clear that this pupper just loves being loved.

Watch:

It's hard for animals with obvious health issues, especially something as visible as a skin condition that makes them look and smell bad, to attract people looking to adopt. But by taking half an hour to get to know her, Kanaka helped us all look past all that and see Katie's sweet spirit shine through.

So many people fell in head over heels for Katie through this video:

"OMG, The person who gets her will have the best dog as she is so obviously starved for affection and so willing to give it back ten fold."

"That dog doesn't have an aggressive bone in her body. she was instantly ready for you to pet her."

"Her little tail wag broke my heart for what’s she’s been through but also lifted my spirits that she has a strength to survive and become a loved family member."

"It's shocking how neglected she looks but her desire to be loved is so strong. She's going to bring such joy to her forever home."

"I consider myself somewhat of a tough guy.... I'm from the streets, had a crazy hard life, i did 9 yrs in prison, seen it all, done it all and ain't scared of nothing... I'm telling you that because in spite all that, when i see videos like this, i start crying like a 5 yr old girl...Goes to show you that what life has done to them, we can relate, and we see it in animals that have been hurt by others and part if me wants to knock out someone that would hurt a dog or kitty like that. Animals bring out the love and compassion we've forgotten because we know they're teaching us what we definitely need to learn. What is truly considered, unconditional love...."

Rocky Kanaka's work with dogs is both inspiring and informative, and he's succeeded in helping so many dogs find forever homes instead of languishing in shelters because they don't make the best first impression. Not long after this video aired, Katie was rescued and will hopefully continue to get the tender care and kindness she deserves.

Follow Katie's journey on Kanaka's website here. You can also follow Rocky Kanaka's channels on YouTube, TikTok and Instagram.

Roger Federer and Trevor Noah filming a Swiss tourism ad

What do you get when you combine comedian Trevor Noah, tennis legend Roger Federer and the world famous clock-making, chocolate-brewing, Alpine-skiing symbol of neutrality, Switzerland?

Apparently, a delightfully charming train ride through the Swiss countryside and perhaps the greatest tourism ad ever made.

Both Noah and Federer shared a tourism ad they collaborated on for the Grand Train Tour of Switzerland, and people are loving it. It's one of those ads that people don't care is an ad because it doesn't really feel like an ad and it's so enjoyable to watch. (It's also incredibly effective—like, give us alllll the train rides through Switzerland, please.)


The ad plays like a mini-documentary of Noah and Federer filming a Swiss tourism ad gone wrong. The two men—both of whom are half-Swiss in real life—appear to hop on the wrong train while arguing about whether or not the ad they are filming is funny (or whether it even should be).

What follows is a tale involving Swiss punctuality, hospitality and stunning natural beauty, all wrapped up in wholesome hilarity.

Check it out:

Thousands of commenters have chimed in with how enjoyable and effective they found the ad:

"This clip is brilliant and I am definitely going to travel on that train in Switzerland in the near future. Excellent work," wrote one commenter.

"Usually, I hate tourism ads because they're always so clichéd and unoriginal, but this one hooked me from the beginning," shared another. "Switzerland is such a beautiful country, and this ad singlehandedly convinced me so. Looking forward to this train ride sometime in the future! :)"

"This is criminally short!" wrote another. "I wish for a full hour! I can’t seem to get enough of them."

Noah and Federer shared their experience making the video with Financial Times, and their "behind the scenes" stories are as delightful as the ad itself.

Federer, who is an official Switzerland Tourism Ambassador, shared how much he has enjoyed making Swiss tourism ads with Robert DeNiro, Anne Hathaway, and of course, Trevor Noah. He said the shoot with Noah brought him back to his own childhood.

"I was always on trains, leaving home, looking out of the window, seeing the trees and the fields go by and thinking, 'Will I be a good tennis player? Will I not? Will I win, will I not?'" he said.

Several parts of the ad point to how strict the Swiss are about being on time, and Noah shared that there were a few instances while filming when a train really did almost take off with them inside.

"They weren't even going to hold it for us," he said. "We were like, 'Oh, we're making an ad,' and then they were like, 'Yeah, and the train has a schedule.'"

"We were laughing," Noah said, imagining what would have happened if a train really had left with them on it. "Like, would that become the meta joke? Does that become the joke in the joke?"

If you enjoyed the train tour ad, take a few minutes to see Noah and Federer share how it came to be and how much fun they had making it.

This article originally appeared on 4.5.23

Maikon Alves|Instagram

Man's dance moves are so smooth people don't think he's real

The human body is amazing. People that have figured out a way to command their body to do reality defying acts are just as fascinating. There's nothing quite like watching someone feel them music, moving so smoothly from one movement to the next while they dance.

Dancing can be a beautiful expression of art and creativity, connecting people through music and movement without even speaking the same language. One dancer from Brazil is turning heads on social media with moves so fluid and robotic that people are questioning if he's human. Maikon Alves uploaded a video recently of him dancing to "Boom Boom Pow" by the Black Eyed Peas.

To say his dance moves are impressive would be an understatement. Alves pops his chest to the beat while slowly stepping in place making it look like he's gliding from move to move. Some movements are crisp and sharp like a robot while others are so fluid it's nearly unbelievable that it could be coming from a human.


While the man's moves do look slightly out of this world, he is indeed a real person, or at least he appears to be in other videos on his page. Commenters ranged between being in awe of his abilities and questioning if he was human.

"Loved. I like how everything is in sync - from the music to the moves to face expressions. 👏👏👏 and your cool personal style," one person writes.

"Doesn’t even look real it’s that good..!! Love this," someone says.

"You will be the dance instructor for the children of our AI overlords someday," a commenter thinks.

"Nah, this is God-level pop-locking," someone compliments.

Even Nicole Scherzinger, actress, singer and former member of the pop group and dance ensemble, Pussycat Dolls gave Alves praise saying, "you are a legend!" Watch his reality defying moves for yourself.