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In this episode, Chelsea gives her honest, unfiltered opinions on the 2020 democratic primary, the American political system, and democratic socialism.

Watch more of The Financial Diet hosted by Chelsea Fagan here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLD30V46E07RR99cC0gCjKUbt-BKoDUcnc

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Hey, guys.

It's Chelsea from The Financial Diet. And I am here today with no phone, no laptop, no notes, no nothing because I'm here to talk to you from my heart to your ears.

So I do want to say one thing upfront before I get into all of my beliefs and thoughts and rants, which is that all of these beliefs are mine. I can't speak for the whole TFD team. I know that everyone probably has differing opinions on these things.

And they are more than entitled to that. So I'm not speaking on behalf of The Financial Diet. We're a team of eight.

I certainly can't speak for all of them. I'm just speaking on behalf of myself. But in all seriousness, today I wanted to go on one of my world famous, finger-licking good rants.

Because as I'm recording this, it is March 6th, 2020, which means we are very much in the most heated moments of the Democratic primary for the nomination for president, who will obviously be facing off against our incumbent President Trump in November. By the time this goes up, we will already be into the day of voting on March 10th where we have several very important states, such as Michigan, who are going to be casting their primary votes. So I'm well aware that in talking between now and when this goes up, a lot of things could possibly change.

And I may say some things here that are out of date by the time that this airs. But I'm just not one of those YouTubers who reacts within 10 minutes of something happening and puts the video up. It's just not how we operate.

So this is maybe not going to be the most timely video. But it's something that I've been wanting to talk about for a while and something that I think ultimately I don't want to be overly focused on the minute to minute goings on of this particular primary. Because I think the conversation that I want to have in regards to this channel, in regards to personal finance, and my ethics and values with regards to that really extends way beyond this particular race.

But all of that said, let's talk about this particular race for a moment to kind of contextualize where we're at and where I'm coming from. So obviously, right now, we really have two people left in this race as of recording. We have Joe Biden, former vice president, and we have Bernie Sanders, senator from Vermont.

I think technically, Tulsi Gabbard is still running. But I feel like extraordinarily question mark about her entire thing. I listened to a really fascinating podcast about her because she was raised in a cult.

We're just going to say a whole lot going on there. But suffice to say, she has literally one delegate by this recording. So she's not really a factor in the race.

As of yesterday, Elizabeth Warren dropped out. As of this recording, Warren has yet to endorse someone. There are obviously a lot of different people who are going to be vying for that, a lot of different causes who could really use her presence and her voter base in their camp.

But as of this moment, we don't know what her choice is going to be on that matter. So that's kind of where we are. That's the picture.

And it will not be a shock to any of you who follow me on essentially any form of social media or know me in any capacity that I am all in for Bernie Sanders and have been since really 2016. And I am obviously biased in that regard. I'm a supporter of Bernie Sanders.

I identify myself as a democratic socialist. He's America's grandpa. What can I tell you?

But in all seriousness, I think that that is a conversation which deserves maybe a little bit of a deeper dive. Because I think that particularly the area in which this channel lives, the space in which we are, I think a lot of what he stands for, what I feel that I stand for, and really the moment that we're at in this culture and this society can often be misunderstood. So I'd like to kind of just take a little bit of an exploration into politics and really what they mean to me.

I should also say that I am a volunteer with the Bernie Sanders campaign. To this point, I've only phone and text banked I've also donated money to his campaign. But I do plan to ramp it up to canvassing as we approach the New York primary.

I haven't yet made the Bernie journey. May do that to Pennsylvania. We'll see.

But suffice to say, I am very involved on a personal level in addition to having these convictions. But I think the convictions are broader than just the election. So the first thing I want to address here is something that comes up over and over and over again on the comments of this channel, on our social media, et cetera, really this dichotomy of socialism versus capitalism.

And like when I did the video with Graham Stephan, it was kind of just like a funny moment to be like, well, Graham's the capitalist. And Chelsea is a socialist. That's the difference.

But that's really sort of an unfair characterization of it. I think aside from the fact that when you look at most of the, quote unquote, "socialist" countries that will often be referenced, things like the Nordic countries, the country France, where I lived in for nearly four years and which was a huge part of why I support a lot of these policies. They're pretty fundamentally capitalist economies.

They have an open market. Obviously, they have a much more robust social safety net. They have more robust taxation, particularly on their wealthy.

But ultimately, these are not true socialist economies in the way that you might imagine them. There are definitely going to be differences in how they operate. There is a much more substantial amount of regulation on many different elements of life.

But you can't really characterize them as not being capitalist. And you can't really characterize Bernie Sanders as not on some level being within a capitalist framework. So I think that that dichotomy is always a little bit frustrating.

Because as Bernie Sanders often rightfully points out, we have a lot of socialism in this country. It just typically benefits corporations and the extremely wealthy. It's just not something that the average person, particularly the average poor or working class person, has access to.

And those, quote unquote, "socialist" advantages and that socialization of things like risk, for example, just are only benefiting a very small amount of our population and, of course, a lot of our corporations. And when you look at the way in which we subsidize a lot of industries, a lot of entities which would otherwise not be able to operate in the way they do, for example, when you look at something like Walmart's employees largely having to rely on social services in order to support themselves and to get access to things like basic medicine, you understand that they're benefiting from a socialized approach to how their employees are being taken care of. But it's Walmart that benefits.

And ultimately, that allows them to just exploit their employees further. So I think that breaking down that black and white dichotomy and understanding that in the most, quote unquote, "capitalist" situations, there is quite a lot of, quote unquote, "socialism" and that in many of these, quote unquote, "socialist" utopias, there is plenty of free market capitalism, you start to get a much clearer picture that it's about finding a balance and about making sure that the wealth of the country in question is not just increasingly only benefiting and being hoarded by a smaller and smaller and smaller number of people. So I reject that dichotomy.

And I think it's not helpful to think in those terms. I also, for what it's worth, I own a small business. I'm a small business owner.

I am participating every day in free market capitalism. The fact that we have relatively favorable conditions to starting a small business, a fairly low barrier to entry-- that is, in many ways, advantageous to me. But at the same time, as a small business owner, I understand how incredibly taxing it is for me to be personally responsible for the health care of my employees, the retirement plans of my employees, that their ability to have a living wage comes down entirely to my desire to pay them that wage.

There's so little protection. We have an employee on our team who is currently pregnant. There are no resources for our company helping subsidize her maternity leave, which benefits all of society for her to be able to take in a healthy way.

We happen to give six full paid months, three months working from home, three months totally offline, which is a lot compared to many other small businesses and even large ones. But that's entirely on our dime. And it was entirely our choice to do it.

I personally choose to operate my company in what I consider a more cooperative and-- I wouldn't say socialized-- but a more universally beneficial way than a lot of business owners do. I'm paid very, very closely. In fact, I'm paid less than some of my employees.

But that is all a personal choice. And I know how taxing those personal choices are to make when there are so little resources out there. And so much of your employees' day-to-day living comes down to their employer.

So I can see in my own personal, everyday experience that while my business is allowed to thrive in many senses and able to generate revenue and grow in a capitalist system, that same capitalist system is making it way more difficult on a day-to-day basis for us to operate because there's such a heavy burden on us if we want to treat our employees well. And the choice that you often see business owners and companies making is to not treat their employees well because there's really no recourse if they don't. They have no financial incentive to do so.

And there are really very few resources, if any, helping them do that. So that's kind of where I am in my professional life that has really led me to this place and lead me to realize just how important it is for us as a society to socialize some of the benefits of being the wealthiest nation. I want to say in the history of the world-- I know I hear that bounced around-- but let's just say the world to be safe, to be as wealthy as we are and to have as many people struggling as we do to me is just inexcusable.

And I feel that on the level of my company, if we have-- if I have one employee who can't put food on the table, then every dollar that I earn is shameful. But I think that that's very much the same at the societal level. If someone down the street from me can't afford to raise their children, then my lifestyle is shameful because we could all be doing better.

And I think that that was an important thing for me to kind of realize and take in and understand both as a business owner and as a citizen. But also, I think one of the things that vastly kind of reconfigured how I thought about everything was really understanding on a very fundamental, visceral level I am so much closer to a homeless person or to a single mother on welfare than I am to a billionaire. I think we often have trouble visualizing just how much money a billion or hundreds of millions of dollars are or how far away that is from the average American experience.

And we often are too quick to distance ourselves from people who might just be a little more poor than us. And when you look at the numbers, even if you're earning well into the six figures, you're way closer to the welfare mom than you are to frickin' Jeff Bezos. Although maybe if he cheats on a few more of his wives, you'll bridge that gap a little bit.

But that was a really important thing because when I talk to people in my life, particularly boomers, or when I'm phone banking, one of the things that you'll often come up against is people really hate the idea of someone poorer than them getting a handout or getting a leg up. They really hate that because they can feel it. It feels so real to them because they can contextualize it in their life.

It's a person who is similar to them who is getting a free thing. But when you look at the massive, massive benefits that, let's say, the agricultural industry gets in terms of subsidies and handouts and advantages or the massive subsidizing that we give to Walmart's employees because they're not paid a living wage, and they're not provided with health care by their employer, we don't look at that in the same way because we can't contextualize it. It feels so far away from us and so hard to understand.

But on every level, our tax dollars are so vastly more subsidizing that, and the military industrial complex, than they're subsidizing the mother on food stamps. So I think teaching yourself to understand these two things, and contextualize them, and really weigh them against each other, and understand each other, and understand how much more of an issue subsidizing and socializing our economy for these massive, massive entities is then giving a little bit of a break to someone struggling-- it really helps you wake up to that. And you can let go of that feeling of resentment.

Why are they getting this thing that they don't deserve, which is really powerful and I think one of the things that people hate to talk about because it's such an ugly sentiment. And what do you do with that? What do you do with the feeling of someone who really resents a poor person getting help?

It's hard to go from there. But I think the only way you can fundamentally change that is to understand that so many people and so many entities around you are getting those handouts. You just don't see them in the same way.

But lastly and maybe most importantly, one of the things that was most crucial to my awakening, if we can call it that, is really understanding what the cycle of poverty looks like in this country and really understanding that we are in an exceptional situation where we have such a vastly wealthy country that generates so much wealth, that generates so much profit. And yet, we have an overwhelming number of our citizens who, despite working full time, can't afford to live a normal adult life, or who are $400 away from financial ruin, or who can't afford to cover themselves in case of emergency, or who are filing for medical bankruptcy. We are all so close to being in financial ruin.

And in many cases, it just happens to be a question of luck that you don't get totally screwed. You happen to not get really sick. You happen to not get laid off from your job, or get suckered into a really bad mortgage, or do any of the things that many otherwise hardworking, thoughtful people did to put themselves on a bad cycle.

Or you were not born into a situation of poverty where it is very, very difficult to ascend and escape in class mostly because the cycle of poverty is so vicious. And it's more vicious the more poor you are when you can't afford to pay a $30 unexpected expense that then snowballs into a bunch of late fees that then snowballs into you having to go to jail because you can't afford to pay these things. And now you have bail to pay for and the jail fees and all of these things.

Or you can't afford to make a minor repair on your car that then snowballs into the car being unable to be driven, which leads you to lose your job and which leads you to lose your home. I mean, these are cycles that can be escaped sometimes. But so much has to go right for people in order for them to be escaped.

And when you look at the difference in terms of advantages in terms of outcomes for people who have a stable, financially secure home and a secure upbringing, for people who have things like higher access to employment opportunities, who can afford an education, or have someone who can even co-sign with them on a student loan to allow them to go to school because even that isn't a given if you don't have anyone in your immediate family or who is close enough to you who has the credit score required in order to get some of these loans. There are so many variables here. And I think something that I often struggle with is how to convey what the cycle of poverty really looks like for people while still being a fundamentally optimistic person who believes that we do have some say in our financial lives.

Because I think that we do. And I think for many of us, having a better relationship with money and being more in control of our decision making with money can be totally transformative. It absolutely was for me.

And I know it has been for many other people. But not everyone has that luxury. Not everyone has the freedom to even budget in their monthly accounting.

Not everyone has access to things like building credit. A lot of people are in a much worse situation than we'd like to imagine. So it can be very difficult to simultaneously acknowledge and really understand that cycle of poverty while still advocating for people to enact as much individual and personal control and as much personal agency as they can, which kind of takes this all back to the original point of this election.

I obviously-- I support Bernie Sanders because I think that our country would be immensely better not just in terms of quality of life, but honestly on many economic indicators, if we didn't have things like the student debt crisis absolutely crushing the millennial and Gen Z generations in terms of their ability to make basic life decisions, or if we didn't have the specter of medical debt hanging all over us, or if mothers could afford to take a few months off of work when they have a child. I think not only would our lives be better. But I think our economy would be healthier because we would all be able to participate it in a much, much more active and confident way.

And frankly, as a business owner, my life would be so much easier. Navigating the private insurance markets as an employer is terrible. I don't want to have to do it.

It's like this should not be my responsibility. And I, of course, am thrilled and honored to take care of my employees as best I can. But I also don't think I'm the best person to even be making those decisions.

I think we should all have this. And it shouldn't come from the employers. It shouldn't be tied to your employment.

It should just be something we all have because it's barbaric to live in a country as rich as ours and to know that if someone-- a kid falls off their bike and breaks their arm unexpectedly, that could bankrupt their family if they don't have the right type of insurance, or they got into the wrong ambulance. So all of that to say, yes, I support Bernie Sanders. And I will do everything that I can to help him get elected.

And I think that you should vote for him if you haven't already. But it's so beyond that. It's about really reconsidering how we think about money, how we think about privilege, how we think about choices, how we think about who's getting a handout in this culture and what a handout even means.

It means breaking out of that cycle where you're looking at your neighbor and what they may have gotten for free while ignoring the massive corporation who's subsidized into being able to treat their employees like indentured servants. It's breaking these cycles and becoming-- and I know it probably sounds corny at this point-- but becoming class conscious, realizing that you have a social class. And you have class solidarity with the person who's serving your coffee and cleaning your offices and driving your buses.

You do not have class solidarity with frickin' the judges of Shark Tank. And I know that in America, we believe in our exceptionalism, and that phrase that we're all temporarily embarrassed millionaires, or we believe that-- we believe in the American dream in the sense that we have a better chance here than elsewhere to ascend in class, which is statistically not true. But it's hard to shake those notions.

And it's hard to give up that sense of identifying with these people who are so far beyond us because us empathizing with them instead of the homeless person on the corner plays right into their hands and to their advantage. And I think that that's what fundamentally needs to change, or none of this will change. As they say-- and I don't remember who said it.

If someone wants to quote me in the comments, tell me who said this. But the only time you should ever look in your neighbor's dish is to make sure that he has enough. You should never look at it to see if he has more.

But all of that to say to end on hopefully what is a very positive note-- I would not be doing the Financial Diet if I didn't believe that we all have some control and we all have some possibility to improve our own financial lives and our own relationships with money. I do believe that. And I continue to.

And I believe that it's really beneficial to have financial literacy and to understand these things and to, at the very least, arm yourself with knowledge to not get in bad situations that you could have possibly avoided or know all of your options in improving a situation. I think that knowledge is always beneficial and that we could always be striving to have a better relationship with money. But I do not believe that we should be in a situation where everyone is sort of having to like video game hack their way into having a dignified retirement, or owning a home someday, or just living a comfortable adult life.

I believe that everyone should be entitled to some basic rights and that our lives would all be better if we had them. But I also believe that in addition to having control over your finances to an extent, I believe that you have way more power than you think you do when it comes to politics and that we would be really better served to not think of politics as just something that happens without us or in this like you don't understand it. It's just not your thing.

You don't really like it. Because whether or not you choose to be involved in it, politics will have an enormous influence over your life, over the very real material factors of your life. And if you choose to sit the process out, you're essentially just allowing someone else to make that decision for you.

I feel every day incredibly liberated and empowered by knowing that I get to be a part of this process, that I can call someone on the phone I've never met and talk to them about what I believe in and hear about what they believe in, or that I can knock on someone's door and meet a stranger and talk to them about my ideas and hear about theirs. That's immensely powerful. And there are so many ways to get involved.

And I genuinely hope that you all do. Because just like you can take control over your financial lives, you can take control over how your beliefs and your values and your goals have an impact on the world around you. So hopefully, everyone will get out and vote today if you're in one of the states that's voting.

And if not, at the very least, I hope you guys take a look at the world around you and realize that you have way more in common with your neighbors than you think and that ultimately-- (SINGING) you're all in this together. [LAUGHTER] As always, thank you for watching. And don't forget to hit the Subscribe button and to come back every Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday for new and awesome videos. Bye.