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In our second episode of our (remotely-filmed) second season of The Financial Confessions, we spoke with YouTuber Big Joel (AKA Henry), all about youtube internet culture, bad money advice, and conservative male insecurity.

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Hello, everyone, and welcome back to another episode of season two of The Financial Confessions.

We are here every Monday to talk about all things money, and life, and everything that goes with those two things, which is essentially everything in the universe. Many of you know, who are watching on YouTube-- but those on the podcast side of the listening may not know as much-- I'm a big consumer of YouTube myself.

I actually wasn't really a huge YouTube watcher before I started making YouTube videos. And then, obviously, partially out of a desire to hone my craft, and partially out of a desire to see what other people were up to on the platform, I started to really get into YouTube. I also pretty quickly got a YouTube Red at the time-- now it's YouTube Premium subscription-- which gets rid of all the ads, and has a lot of other nice bonus features.

This is not a plug. They're not paying me to say that. But that pretty quickly made it more appealing to me than a lot of TV and streaming services.

So I'm someone who, more often than not, when it comes to consuming video content, is watching YouTube. And I have a lot of favorite YouTubers. Some of them we've had on TFC before.

Some of them we will hopefully have on season two. Karolina Zebrowska-- the amazing clothing and fashion historian Youtuber-- I beg of you, respond to our email. But no, in all seriousness, I have a lot of YouTubers that I love.

And I have specific genres of YouTube videos that I love to watch. I've been taking a tiny respite from them post-election, but I'm already starting to ramp back up with them, because I don't want to totally cut myself off. The genre I'm referring to is sort of the sociopolitical, philosophical, cultural commentary video essay.

There are some truly amazing YouTubers in this space, one of whom is my guest today. And I cannot wait to introduce you to him. You might know other YouTubers in this space, like Counterpoints, Philosophy Tube-- there's another really underrated one called Timba on Toast, who makes amazing videos.

But basically, these are people who sort of digest everything that's going on in our cultural, and political, and social zeitgeist, and sort of transmute it into these really fascinating-- sometimes bite-sized, sometimes longer form-- essays on the world in which we live. My guest today is named Henry, but he goes by Big Joel on YouTube, and he produces videos in that genre, often analyzing people who I-- and probably you-- would describe as sort of conservative thought leaders. People who often really get a lot of mileage out of proposing a specific mode of being and way of viewing the world.

One that is very focused on individualism, radical self-reliance, the bootstrap narrative, and the like. Obviously, we talk here at TFD primarily about money, and how it impacts our lives, and how to manage it in a more thoughtful way. But you guys might have noticed, if you watch our channel, that we also often talk about how the broader context in which we live sociopolitically has a huge bearing on the choices that we have, and the boundaries and parameters in which we are making these choices.

So I wanted to bring on Henry today to talk about those thought leaders; to talk about these ideas in our culture; how they are perpetuating some of these maybe not so ideal situations in which we're living, and how we can maybe change how we think. So without further ado, I cannot wait to introduce you guys to Henry of YouTube channel Big Joel. Hi, Henry.

Hi. I've never had such a, you know, triumphant introduction. Thank you.

Oh. You're welcome I have watched so many of your videos. I have some favorites.

Yes, I have some favorites. So I love your work on your video on-- I think you have multiple ones-- but one of them I especially love, on Jordan Peterson, because I find Jordan Peterson to be such a fascinating person on so many different levels. But you've also done really great videos about the PragerU series channel, which is obviously like a Coke-funded propaganda arm, narrated by Dennis Prager and his sort of band of merry men.

But as I mentioned, you do all of these videos around this sort of strain of sociopolitical thought. And I'd love to hear a little bit more about what you do and why you do it. Sure.

You know, it's interesting to describe me as a political YouTuber, you know, who gets into sociopolitical philosophy and the like, because that's not personally how I would ever think about it normally. I try to come by the topics I come by just by way of media analysis, as opposed to any kind of hardcore political claims that I make-- which really, they're not in the videos. Like, I don't really generally talk about how the world is, and how it could be made better.

Not to say that that's not a productive use of your time. But yeah, I try to come by these figures as people who are trying to tell you a story-- generally a story for which you are the protagonist-- rather than approach them as like literal human beings who we have to evaluate as people. I find it sort of helpful to think of them as these strange, fictional characters who are putting on a show for the audience.

And it's something-- I don't know if you want to talk about your channel-- but it's interesting how your channel intersects with those sorts of narratives, right? So the financial world-- the reason why I started watching your channel is that the financial world is so riddled with a very specific kind of narrative. I mean, you are in the same thought space as Jordan Peterson.

What? I mean, no, not in the sense of like you're saying the same things. In the sense that people broadly are having an extremely difficult time dealing with the chaos in their lives, and you both come in with some kind of a salve to that problem, right?

Like, you want to create some solutions to that problem, just like he does. It's just the problem is that he does it poorly. He doesn't-- he's a dick about it, in my opinion anyway.

Yeah. Well, it's interesting that you say that you don't perceive your work as having a sort of sociopolitical through line. And I think that makes sense in a way, in the way that a viewer like myself might perceive it that way if you don't necessarily set out with that intent, because I think what often links a lot of the people, and topics, and ideas that you address on your channel-- a common through line, I think, in a lot of these people is that they try to portray themselves as apolitical, Jordan Peterson is a good example.

And I think often, a lot of these really often toxic and dangerous narratives are at their core very political. And the idea to present them as apolitical, I think it just really adds to the danger of these stories. So I think in unpacking them, in talking about them and thinking about them, you sort of, by necessity, brush up against a lot of politics, because that's sort of the liminal space that they're existing in without acknowledging it.

Oh sure. I would never say that I my videos don't have any politics in them either. I just don't think I'm like-- I would just would never be the recommendation for somebody who wanted to learn more about politics.

It's not that I don't have politics, as a creator or anything like that. But yeah. I guess the thing about so many of these conservative claims about how people can get happier-- how their lives can be better-- is that they revolve around a vision of the world, wherein your failure is evidence of the fact that you suck ass.

And that you're not doing enough work. And that you haven't-- and that there's literally no time in which we can ever look at anything besides our own lives. I even expect, in the comments section of this podcast-- immediately as we dive into Jordan Peterson-- for people to say, that's not really what he believes.

That's not quite a good explanation for what he says, because he adds a huge amount of subtlety and nuance to it-- or rather, he just adds a bunch of verbiage-- either way you see it. But the truth is, is that no matter how far you go with Jordan Peterson, the problem will always be one of your own personal failings. And there's really no value to looking at anything besides that.

And it's something that-- it's this fundamental quality that so many people-- like self-help people-- promise, right? That your problems aren't political. That's the promise of self-help.

And that's the promise of a lot of things, right? Don't even worry. Don't even worry about the fact that the system is literally stacked against you in 15 ways.

You can all become rich, leaving aside the fact that that literally does not make sense. You cannot all become rich. You will not.

How could you? What would that even mean? Well, yeah.

I mean, it really-- you would have to have-- ironically, the only theoretical situation in which every person is in a society could be rich at the same time would be like some sort of utopian communism situation. Right. You have to have like a post-scarcity utopia of some kind.

Right. Exactly. Like at that point, everyone's living in like Elysium.

But, you know, yeah. I mean, I feel like Jordan Peterson, in some ways, typifies that-- he very much feels like a combination of like a Tony Robbins character-- like a very traditional self-help. But something I think that goes beyond that, and which speaks to a very unique time in which we're living, where a lot of the previous self-help and personal finance gurus-- because you may not be as familiar with the personal finance world, and the sort of guru world they're in-- but they had their own, and have their own sort of cresting waves of self-help people, and sort of quasi, almost like televangelist types-- Sure. --that are all similarly radical self-reliant.

But up until very recently, the tone, I feel, of these sort of self-help bootstrap narratives were always sort of underpinned with a level of optimism, and kind of joie de vive that was made logical by the relatively prosperous economic times of like the '80s and '90s, and even the beginning of the 00s. Whereas now, with some of these characters that you see-- again, I think Jordan being a perfect example of them-- there's such a-- there's almost like a desperate cynicism to it in the sense that you are now acknowledging that the world is not good. And things are getting bad in a very, very acute and tangible way.

And the only option is to fix it. It comes from a place of cynicism that I do feel on some level is sort of almost attempting to acknowledge the deteriorating material conditions of the world we live in, but then always has to come back to that immediate. And it will all get better if you can just clean your room.

Right. That's interesting. I'd love to see what you-- I would love to watch more financial advice from the '80s, '90s and early '00s.

That sounds amazing. That's interesting. Do you find that that's true across the board?

Like, Jordan Peterson, I think he is deeply cynical as a figure. I think that's a huge part of why people like him so much, right? Because he represents an understanding of your angst that is simply not present in a lot of this self-help narrative.

The same is true of something like School of Life, although that's just another topic I talk about on my channel sometimes. But you know, you'll find with other sorts of self-help figure-- who don't have this sort of, I'm an important academic professor vibe about them-- that at this point, so much of your capacity to get rich quick, or get rich at all, is conditioned on like gaming the system, right? The idea is, is that we're all a bunch of sheeple.

And you can game the system by being outside of the matrix. And then, from that vantage point, you can get in there. And I think that Jordan Peterson quite rightly says, don't even-- no.

You're not-- Don't even think about gaming any kind of system. It's not about the system. Not that-- that's where he's wrong, of course.

But I think that what people find so appealing about Jordan Peterson is his fundamental willingness to admit that life is painful, and filled with suffering. And what's more, he's absolutely correct in one of his major claims, which is that you, as a human being, probably can't do too much to help it. How much are you actually going to get happier by being mad about billionaires owning all the money?

What's the material impact of that anger? It's true that you could probably do a better job of just making yourself feel better by ignoring it. I don't know if that's right or wrong.

I've never studied it. Neither has he. But there's no reason to presuppose that that would make you feel better at all.

So he's right in that regard. I feel like I've lost my train of thought. I apologize.

No. No, I think that's very astute, in the sense that if you decoupled a lot of the claims about, you know, sort of-- if you made the narrative that by honing in on your own experience and bettering yourself, it's likely that you'll create a bit of a snowball effect with your mental health; and with your ability to focus on larger subjects; and your ability to help others. And to an extent, we do try to do that at TFD, because we walk a very fine line on this channel, and in this company, between having pretty strong progressive political convictions, in so far as things are not going to get better at scale unless, like, we start regulating the shit out of Wall Street.

And we change the tax code. And we make public education-- higher education-- free. And make universal healthcare a thing.

And so there are these big, systemic sort of building blocks that need to be put into place-- and I never want to fall into the trap of sort of victim-blaming people, or shaming them for being at a certain place financially, when in many cases, your upbringing and happenstance of birth all but ensures that you will be in those situations. Yet at the same time, focusing too much on those structural issues-- which I think often is the case of people who are very progressively minded-- I think can become paralyzing in terms of your own mental health and well-being, and ultimately is just not productive in terms of whether or not the system is wrong-- and I think it is in many ways-- chances are, we're all going to continue working and existing within this system as it incrementally changes for the rest of our lives. So it is in your best interest to do what you can to improve your status within that system, and your standing.

But it is a fine line to walk, and there are times when I'm giving advice, or when we're talking about subjects, and you do sort of feel like, well am I edging into the territory of clean your room buck-o? You can't overly reduce the number of ways in which economics are influencing every single one of your decisions. Everything is within a capitalist matrix, and you are constantly being pressured into enjoying a very specific kind of life-- a specific relationship to money-- which profits a lot of people.

So of course, it's helpful and good to tell people, you don't got to do that. You could be doing something else. You could save your money.

You know, I think it's interesting when you talk about credit. One question I have for you-- I should probably talk to a normal person-- I know you talk about how credit cards can be totally helpful for people if you use them craftily, and the like. But I don't really understand why credit cards even-- like credit card debt as a structure, wherein people spend it in unhealthy ways-- why is that even a thing in the first place?

Does that help people? Is that a good thing for-- No. No. --for anybody?

Or is it just the banks? Like the major way they make money is from taking money from poor people-- that they can't pay their credit card bills. Yeah.

So the sort of short form answer to every macro question you can ask about personal finance is that these things exist because they're profitable for-- and in the interest of-- financial services companies. That's why they exist in the first place, right? Now, from each of these systems-- and you could probably identify at least a half dozen of these systems, credit cards being a good example-- the money is made on people who don't use these things, or cannot use these things in a sort of, let's just say-- I hate to use the word something like responsible, because that implies that everyone who can't pay their credit card bill is irresponsible.

But let's say they make their money on people who fall behind in the system. That's the best way to say it. However, in order to incentivize the use of these products, they create structures on top of these systems-- credit cards being a good example-- where if you have the money to pay your credit card bill at the end of the month every month in full, and therefore never pay a dollar of interest on it, you can really seriously game the system, and rack up tons of points, and miles, and cash back.

But that's pretty much across the board. None of these things need to exist, in theory. But now that they do, because I don't think even-- let's say in a future scenario, TFD has 50 million subscribers, and I'm like commanding a small nation-- we still ain't getting rid of credit cards in my lifetime, probably.

So I do think the goal should be reform. And how can we all have a more intelligent relationship to things? And where I do think you can stand a higher chance of nudging people is in changing how they respond to and move through the world, which as you say is constantly pressuring them to behave in a certain way.

Right. I think that there's a lot of easy answers that people give, even people who want to look-- sorry-- even people who want to look at the world in terms of the systems of power, the very rich controlling everything, and most structures existing for their interests. They sort of reduce the complexity of the system, right?

What we see so often is people conceptualizing the owning class as this cabal. You know, if you think about QAnon, which is this sort of rough attempt to establish class politics, by assuming that the elite are a pedophile ring, et cetera-- harvesting Adrenochrome from the bodies of virgins or whatever-- As you do. --you see that sort of-- you see that attempt to reduce the complexity. These people know that power is being deployed on them in this way.

But they're not aware, or they don't-- it's easier to construct this sort of pseudo-mystical conspiracy surrounding how power functions in society, rather than realizing-- and this is a big emphasis of my channel, and I think yours-- rather than realizing that their interactions with these sorts of moneyed structures-- the interests of the owning class-- happen every single day, in every single context. It is the most-- it's not secret. It's not in any kind of shadows.

It is a constantly emerging, and mundane thing. That's why I like your videos about rich people so much. That's how I found your channel, watching videos about rich people being weird.

Because it's not that rich people are weird, you know, because they're the emperor of the world, and they believe in Satan. It's because of a huge number of natural forces that congregate together to make it so that rich people don't feel accountable to people, because they can only ideologically believe, having as much money as they do, that that's justified in some way, right? They talk to rich people, because that's how they get their emotional satisfaction.

It's not complicated. It's more intricate than people make it out to be. It's very, very complicated.

But it's not weird. It's extremely normal, how these structures emerge. And the funny thing is, if you really want to go for like an unplugged from The Matrix moment, the truth is that we, as Americans, and more broadly as Westerners-- living in developed nations-- even the low income amongst us have a level of quality of life, and have a set of perspectives, and expectations, and standards that come from, in large part, an exploitation of other parts of the globe.

That happens largely out of sight for us, and which we cannot fully understand or contextualize. And which we almost just sort of have to force ourselves to forget about in order to go about our day. And that happens-- we don't really know, when the average American goes into their grocery store to go buy a thing of bread, the price that they're expecting to pay for the loaf of bread comes from a very, very intricate system of exploitation.

Because the real price of that bread, if everyone up and down the chain were to be compensated fairly, and, you know, upheld to a certain level of labor and environmental standards, would probably be five times as much. Right. And so the very wealthy among us, that's just sort of a microcosm of that.

In order for them to sort of not have their heads explode from cognitive dissonance 24/7, they have to narrow their field of vision down to an extremely small window. Which is how you get Chrissy Teigen, like not thinking twice before being like, what's the-- like literally, yesterday apparently she tweeted something that was like, have you guys ever bought something and it turned out to be a disappointment? One time me and John bought a $13,000 bottle of wine, and it was not even good.

I'm like, I'm not mad at her for tweeting that, because I'm not surprised that she would have done that. But it does go to show how narrow you allow your experience to be, that you would say something like that, and not consider how it might be perceived. I would say the difference between-- yeah, I definitely think there's a huge amount of truth in that-- that the same sorts of cognitive dissonance we use thinking about exploitation, and imperialism of foreign labor, is similar to the way the billionaires consider the working class of America.

But, I do think that whereas working class Americans have this sort of like, I don't even want to engage with this system-- which I am fundamentally, completely unable to affect in any sense-- I do think that billionaires and rich people probably tend to have some pretty Randian politics. Oh, yeah. Like, they definitely converge around thinking that they are the ubermensch, that social Darwinism-- they're like soft eugenicists in some ways.

That's how I mentally construct them. I'm not even sure that's true. I just don't know how I could possibly justify having a billion dollars that didn't involve thinking that I was the most important man alive, right?

Yeah. And you also have to-- I think one of the things that most people don't maybe naturally realize until you see the stats, is how limited social mobility actually is in the United States. And how much of wealth is inherited.

And how many of the super wealthy were born into wealth, as opposed to earning it, because I think we're so used to watching things like Shark Tank, you know? And having this really narrow idea of how a person becomes rich. And I think, even amongst themselves, there is a need to self delude into feeling like, if I am this person, it's because I did something to deserve it.

Right. Partly comes from the fact that if we're going to see a rich person in media, they're generally going to be new money, right? As simple as that.

Right. We are constantly fed the narrative that new money is constantly emerging. Old money, however, it doesn't really exist, right?

I can't remember the last story-- Donald Trump is this exceptional case, because he is old money, but he behaves like this archetypal nouveau riche-- like, he's iconically new money. It's interesting. It's really interesting.

That, like any time I see a photo of his like gold-plated house, I'm just like how is this real? How does any person, from any background, want to live in something that uniquely gaudy and tasteless? I honestly think it should be a requirement.

I find billionaires, and even just really rich people, who perform this like extremely minimal style. And who like are extraordinarily frugal, and talk about it a lot. I just, I truly-- you know, I understand that that frugality is often-- is actually a huge component in what makes them rich, I think an obsessive focus on savings and investments certainly does help people to get a lot of money.

I'm not denying that. But, I don't know. It just bothers me to see like people not even buying a gold toilet or anything?

Like, what's even the point of being super rich if you're not going to buy ridiculous stuff with it? That's true. That's true, although I will say there are ways to do a rich person house-- True. --that I think I have a lot more just pizzazz than a gold-plated house, because it's just such-- it's almost like a child's idea of where a rich person would live.

There's a really patronizing-- I personally think it's a bit patronizing-- idea that Donald Trump is what his base would want to do if they were super rich. I don't really believe that. No.

I think that his base is almost universally better, and would have better taste than Donald Trump himself. But I think there's like there's some sense in it, that there's this relief in seeing a man who is willing to own up to the fact that he is and loves being a ridiculous villain, right? Right.

Who doesn't hide behind this facade of like Bill Gates-- I'm not going to say pseudo philanthropy-- but like philanthropy that retains enormous amounts of wealth for him. And yet, he goes around-- or-- I'm really sorry. I'm definitely rambling at this point.

But seeming like Mark Zuckerberg in his just awful t-shirts, standing next to women who are dressed just 10 times better than him, because he can be respected, and they wouldn't be. And it's just like, oh, good for you, dude. Good for you, king.

I just-- I feel like there's this sense of relief in seeing a figure like Donald Trump, who isn't afraid of capitalism, right? That's the aesthetic of billionaires, this abject fear of embracing the blood that they've created-- the empire-building that they've done. We're not part of that.

I wear a t-shirt, you see. I don't know. That was definitely far off track of where we were in this conversation.

It is perfectly on track. I agree. And that's the same thing with Elon Musk, like trying to get his viral Tweets off, with his like memes and shit, like he's a 16-year-old boy.

And I'm like, have you not done enough damage, Elon Musk? Like, go attend to your 17 children that you don't see. Right.

No, it's interesting, right? They actively want to be a part of the youth culture. And I mean, Elon Musk and Grimes, you know, both have this like affected progressivism that pervades so much of-- well I'm not going to call out Grimes.

I don't know her deal. If I were Grimes, I'd marry Elon Musk, too-- or be his girlfriend, or whatever. I would have his baby, whatever, in that position.

But Elon Musk himself, I don't know, like there's these videos about how he's single-handedly saving the world. And how great he is. It's really something to behold, the boot-licking culture of 23-year-old dudes talking to Elon Musk.

I don't know where that came from, but-- It really is, and I think what's so-- what you're kind of getting at with that, is that for so much of history, there was an inherently antagonistic relationship between the working class and the ruling class. Or at minimum, there was an understanding of the power dynamics at play. And of course, I'm sure you always had like royalists, who were like, the King deserves to be the King, and I would give up my organs for him, and whatever.

But like when you look at, for example, revolutions throughout history, in many cases, you're talking about the people without means going after the people with means, and taking them by force. And one of the things I thought a lot about watching the riots at the Capitol on January 6th, was it's so strange to see what is effectively an attempted coup in the halls of Congress, where many of the rioters were pretty explicitly looking for politicians to kill. And I mean, we're talking about pretty serious stuff.

And yet for most of them, there were almost no material demands, other than we want this guy to be president instead of this guy. But not with any real acute understanding of how that would improve their life. And what's fascinating is, when you look at, for example, the woman who was killed during the riots, who was, I think, shot in the neck, she had been recently, since her-- I think her business had taken a hit due to COVID, and she was basically in massive debt, and on a predatory loan to help, you know, restore her business.

So clearly, she was in massive financial distress. But that massive financial distress happened under the president that she was fighting for. And there was no direct relationship between the very acute suffering that she, and a lot of these other people, are experiencing economically, and what was happening there.

And I do wonder, like how do we reconnect the two halves of the magnet? How do you get this very real sense of something is not right in our society, and in our economy, with-- and this is what would actually help? Right.

It's a good question. Yeah. What say you?

I wish I had literally any possible way helping out with that one. I feel like a huge first step is to get people thinking for themselves, though. To encourage critical thinking, just as a basic skill, that people can totally acquire, and which is denied to people, systemically, by various propaganda arms.

Of capitalism and the government, right? You know, PragerU as a structure exists funded by oil companies, as you said, in order to rob people of their ability to basically tell people, no, actually, you should probably shut the fuck up. But also start-- Can I curse on this?

Probably not, right? Oh, yes. Please.

Fuck. OK. You should shut up.

But also, like, my agenda is your agenda. And the agenda is that you should be made to shut up. That's the agenda.

We can agree on that, right? Right. You and me?

There's so many great videos of theirs that basically-- you know, we say mask off a lot. People saying mask off a lot on Twitter, and that's not really an operant thing for PragerU. The mask is never on.

Right. They just come out and say it, and they totally can. It's interesting.

Speaking of the-- because obviously, when you look at the radicalization that's been happening, and this sort of political outgrowth, that was in many ways kind of typified by Trump, but definitely did not start with him-- will not end with him. A lot of that is radicalization on social media, and a lot of that is on YouTube. And I know that there was a time when it felt-- I would say probably right around 2016 through 2018-- where it felt like right wing YouTube was just an unstoppable force that was going to sort of exponentially grow, and nothing could counter it.

I do feel now that that's starting to turn a little bit, and progressive voices are being able to sort of counter that to an extent. How do you feel about the current role of right wing radicalization on YouTube specifically, and how optimistic do you feel about these messages-- yours, mine, et cetera-- being able to have a real impact on the platform? I will honestly say I don't know, in a few regards, right?

I think for a lot of the people that were getting radicalized on YouTube in-- I don't know what year you want to pick-- whenever Sargon of Akkad was getting the most subs. And whenever that happened. And Gamergate was at its height, right? 2014.

I think that there was-- I think it was just about looking really smart, right? I do think that there was earnestly held beliefs about the way video games should be, and about how women should shut up, et cetera. I worry about the fact that, are ideologies on YouTube-- like, are they trends?

Is it like fun to talk about these beliefs right now, and then somebody else will come out with RandTube, and then everyone's just going to be like, oh, yeah. Yeah. We're objectivists now.

I worry-- I also think that a huge part of why there was such a shift away from reactionary, right wing YouTube, is because these creators were speaking about the same exact things to their audiences, who were getting older. At some point in your life, you got to not think about Gamergate anymore. Like how long are you going to plausibly be thinking about Gamergate?

And then they try to move that into having real world power, and it was a huge failure. How optimistic am I that left wing YouTubers are going to be helpful for us? Well, obviously, I think they already have been.

Some of them, certainly. Hbomb has definitely spoken to tons of people. And people really resonate with him, and that's been great.

Tons. ContraPoints, Philosophy Tube, et cetera-- . the people that you said at the beginning of this podcast. But in the longer run, I don't know.

I'm not particularly ambitious myself. I don't think that BreadTube is going to be the revolution, more likely than not. I think the most we could possibly aspire to is to help people think about things a little bit more critically.

I definitely don't think that-- you know, some of them are totally going to run-- I feel like somebody is going to run for political office someday from this background. But it will not be me. Nor me.

Is there a conclusion sentence in there? I'm trying to figure out if I had any point with any of the last three things I said. Sorry, what?

No, I said nor me. And I was going to say that I do think-- I try to keep our lane at TFD pretty narrow, in the sense that we exist in the world of personal finance. When I think about who our like arch nemesis are, in terms of ideology, they're all in the personal finance world.

Right. And notably, beep, beep. You guys all know who I'm talking about back home.

But in keeping the lane kind of narrow for personal finance, I think that there's-- it can feel, I think, more manageable, in the sense that personal finance is still a smaller pool than like political discourse, or social discourse. And I also do think it is a good on-ramp for a lot of normies, in terms of you can get people to start thinking about, like, hey, it is messed up that rich people live like this, and the rest of us live like that, through the prism of personal finance, because I think it's-- ultimately, it's a lot less aggressive to people than looking at it through a political lens. And although I am open about my own politics, I try not to put most of our videos in any kind of a political context, because I think that the truth, and the facts, and the stats, really speak for themselves.

Like, if you really look at these facts, and you draw the conclusion of like, well, rich people are just the special ones, and we should all be crushed under their wheels, then I don't really know how to help you. Yeah, I don't think there's an argument against that. If you're going to choose to believe that-- your conservatism is in no small part a justification for thinking that poor people are just shitty, shitty people, right?

Garbage people. And also, that-- I was about to go into a tangent about poor people-- Go into it. No.

There's really nowhere you can really take that, can you? It's done, right? You can't argue like moral bedrock with somebody.

If they think that poor people are-- if they think, A, that we live in a meritocracy, and then B, living in a meritocracy is just inherently good at every single moment. And that somehow being good at your job should make your life great. And a person who's not optimal at their job, their life should be shitty.

If they don't have the motivation-- if it's hard for them to put a ton of work into their work. Maybe they're not the brightest human-- I'm not calling poor people stupid. I'm just saying like not everybody is the genius of entrepreneurialship that you really can expect.

And that has to be OK. We should live in a society where people are important. If you don't believe that, what am I going to inform you of?

Enjoy your belief, I guess. I don't think most people do believe that, though, generally speaking. I think that most people who identify with that conservative world view-- politically, economically, financially, et cetera-- I think that most of them would not ghost-- they wouldn't think that they think that poor people are just lazy, and dumb, and deserve to be.

I think, though, that the relationship that they have toward it is the same relationship that certain people-- assholes, primarily-- have towards people who are overweight, in the sense that, you're like aw, I'm so sorry you're like that. As long as you know that it's bad to be that way, and you're constantly trying to be thin, and constantly self-flagellating for not being thin, then I can get on board with you. But only if you're in that space.

It's what the real tragedy of it, when you think about it, is, that I don't have that work ethic. I'm from a middle class background. I lived at home for a while.

I was lucky I have a college education. I don't have this 16-hour a day work thing going on. Why is this the standard that we hold up for the poor, but not for the rich?

Even remotely. And yes, I know rich people do work quite a lot. But nobody-- they don't have to.

Who cares what they do? It's not interesting. It's not a standard held for them.

We're not-- we don't think of them as lesser. I guess people think of them as a lot better, because they work so much, which is also stupid. There's also a lot of interesting sociological data around the fact that rich people tend to work more as they earn more, which just shows that they probably just get an addictive relationship to work, and prestige, and the accumulation of wealth.

But it's not really anything to do with the relationship between how hard they work, and what they're earning. Right. I know that when I started working on YouTube, I wasn't as motivated before I had an audience, right?

What's the point? You know? It becomes obsessive.

You know, big number go up. It's fun. I don't know.

It's something to do. Number go up. I will say, though, that one thing that does give me hope when it comes to the, in some cases, very predominant voices of this particular conservative-- like arch conservative, bootstrap worldview-- whether it is in the political space, or the social space, or the financial space, is that I actually feel that for every one or two true believers-- like I bet Shapiro seems to clearly believe this shit.

Oh, he's into it. For sure. He's very into it.

And you see those like interviews with Dave Rubin, where he's like, and you know, you'll come to my wedding someday. And he's like, absolutely not. Your life is a sin.

I know. If you're a religious fundamentalist, it's a bigger chance that you're not a grifter, right? Because you're really right there.

You're into it. But even economically-- like I watch some of his content, and point-by-point, line-by-line, when it comes to like policy analysis and economic analysis, I'm like, OK, clearly these are the wrong conclusions to be drawing. But the man has done his homework, and he clearly has a world view-- and a view of what makes people successful in life-- that he feels a genuine conviction about, and is at least attempting to back up.

But for every Ben Shapiro, I feel like there are 10 figures who clearly don't believe this stuff. I mean, if you ever look at like Steven Crowder, he doesn't give a shit. Have you looked at his face while he's talking about this stuff?

Yeah, like-- There's not a chance that Steven Crowder cares at all about any of this. No. Like it's probably unlikely that he can read.

Like, he mostly just wants-- like his show is just usually like a preset. It's just there so that he can have skits to dress up as a woman, predominantly. That's like his main interest.

But amongst the voices that really are ascendant in these views, outside of a few true believers, most people who are making money off of espousing these things don't really either seem to believe what they're saying-- in the case of Candice Owens, who like, there's no way she believes that stuff. Oh, really? Looking at her face, I'm like, the intensity with which she speaks-- Yeah. - It gets to me.

I feel like if she's a grifter, she's really good at it. Well, she definitely is a grifter, because like literally eight months before she was making the circuit on right wing radio, she had like a left wing website. So clearly, it's a grift, but she definitely has honed the face for sure.

She delivers it like she's got some weight behind those lines. Right. But then you have people like Dave Rubin, who I literally don't think even understands anything whatsoever, or does any sort of research.

Dave Rubin doesn't know what like American debt is. Right? He once said-- he once gave an interview-- he once talked about how American debt is going to lead to a situation which will inevitably have us going to war with China over the fact that they have so much money paid to them.

And what's more, that China is currently-- has a high chance of cloning people. They might be cloning people-- Chinese people-- to fight in the war, you see. It's literally like there's not a chance he spent more than 20 minutes thinking about any of this.

Any economist could tell him how debt works, and how it definitely does not work. Why would you even want to go to war with us over the debt? Just-- OK.

Sorry. I'm losing myself into this-- I have had conversations with family members over the concept of the national debt, and it is a long and sad road to nowhere, let me tell you, because that is-- It's hard to-- like the principle of our economy is something that intuitively does not make a lot of sense, right? Right.

That isn't necessarily-- I mean, obviously we spend a lot of money servicing the debt. I'm not trying to say there's no problem with the national deficit. I'm just trying to say it's very unintuitive to think that being in debt might not be a problem.

At least, not even close to as much of a problem as people make it out to be. And also, many unscrupulous politicians, first and foremost, make the sort of easy to understand, but ultimately extremely fallacious comparison between the American economy and an individual's budget, or a business's, you know, P&L sheet. But all of that is to say that when I look at the number of people who have purchased in this space versus the percentage of them that seem to really be buying into this, it does give me hope in the sense that I don't think that most of these ideas-- particularly as it pertains to economics, and the average living standard of an American-- I don't think it has enough juice to really get in on a lot of people.

Oh, for sure. It only really works with people who are already OK, for the most part. Right.

No, I think that people fundamentally, most of them-- I think you've got a lot of right wingers out there who are very into something-- a wedge issue, right? Like abortion. Or even trans rights these days.

That's really informing a huge amount of the economic policy that's being shoveled into their political party. Not to say that we should budge on either of those issues. Just to say it's piggybacking.

Nobody sits down for a second-- a person can sit down for five minutes, believe in the Bible, and say, oh, abortion's wrong. I'm going to spend my life voting for people who are against that. I fully believe there's a lot of genuine people, who really believe that's the right thing to do.

Nobody cares about how important a company is, and how they're not going to-- how trickle down economics is so effective. Oh, it's amazing, in that me, and my friends, and my wife and I are all idiots, because we're not rich. How many people are legitimately care about this ideology?

I can't accept that it's all of them. Or like the idea that the average person is like, if the fucking richest 3% of people do not have their taxes cut, then I will kill myself. Like, just that level of fervent.

I have to say, though, hats off to the grifters for being able to make trans rights a wedge issue, when I would guarantee that at least 80% of the people who really have bought into this like have probably never in real life interacted with a trans person knowingly-- certainly don't have experience dealing with this on any kind of a day-to-day basis. Like at least homophobia, if you're tapping into that, statistically, it's 1 out of every 10 people, right? So the chances are high that every person has come into prolonged known contact with a gay person, or has perhaps gay experiences or sentiments themselves.

But I think trans people are roughly 1% of the population-ish? Sure. Something like that.

So like statistically, just how much of an impact does this have on the average American's life? And yet they've managed to just slide that in as the new wedge issue now that the gay marriage question is sort of settled. Yeah, I mean it's a double edged sword though, right?

Like if your sister-- I mean, if a lot of people in your life are gay, if you met a gay person-- how long are you going to keep this charade up, right? That you don't love them. That what they do isn't OK.

With trans people, like now a bunch of-- you can sort of just like, yeah, I don't know that kind of person. They might be East Coast freaks. I don't know.

Right? Like, it's very easy to dehumanize kinds of people that you don't meet. So it kind of makes sense on that level.

Totally agree. Although, again, I have to say big ups to Ben Shapiro for truly believing this nonsense. And like-- I really don't even know why Ben Shapiro cares, with his biological pronoun thing.

What is he doing? He doesn't actually think-- OK, you can convince me he believes things. But you're not going to convince me he believes in the idea of bio pronouns.

I don't see it. There's no way he doesn't see what he's doing there. And that that's objectively never been a thing.

I'm not connecting this to Ben Shapiro. I'll let everyone at home make their own connections here. But I have a working theory, that especially like hetero-- ostensibly hetero cis men-- who get really, really worked up about trans issues, and make it a really big calling card, and really get very intense about it.

I have to say, whether or not it is like a desire, or something like unconsidered or unconfronted within themselves-- I just think those men probably do not have the most stable relationship with their own masculinity, and their own feelings about things. But there's probably-- all I'm saying is their Incognito window on Chrome is probably a very interesting place. No, I mean it seems like-- even if they're not-- even if they're not like really into trans women or whatever, right?

Even if they're not, they might just be implicitly terrified, I guess, of the idea of finding somebody attractive who turns out to have a penis, right? Like that is a really legitimate-- not legitimate-- but legitimate for them fear. And it's interesting how that basic, kind of visceral thing that we all know is kind of at the base of this, is sublimated through all these channels, like women's sports being something that everybody has a concern about now.

Women's sports. This thing that has been systemically defunded across America. Education systems clearly do not prioritize women's sports as much as they do men's sports.

But now, this one aspect of them, we are led to believe is just sacred. This part of it, that, at some point, a trans woman might play, and that'll ruin the thing that we definitely, definitely care about. It's like, yeah.

It's like the same people who have probably like never once been encouraged to consider why like their cost of living has increased by 5x over the past 20 years, but their wages have been stagnant. That's like not top of mind. That's not a kitchen table issue.

However, the idea that someone who was born a man could compete in the women's 100-meter dash at some college in Ohio. Like, stop the presses. We have got to address this problem.

It's odd. It's odd. Sorry.

Go on. No, I was just saying it's odd. So we've come to the important time that happens to every little episode of The Financial Confessions.

We have our rapid fire questions. We have seven of them. Now, what your definition of rapid fire answers, that can range.

It could be a word, or a sentence. But the idea is to just go off the dome, and really keep it quippy. So I'm going to ask you these questions.

Always feel free to pass on one. And let's get into it. What is the big financial secret of your industry?

In this case, we'll say YouTube. Just like try to be like endearing, I guess. Don't act weird about things.

Just try to be cool, is, I think, a big part of it. In terms of like finding an audience? Yeah, yeah.

Just be like a normal person as much as possible. Don't be like a freak it's a big secret. I agree.

What do you invest in, versus what are you cheap about in your own life? Oh, you don't mean like stocks, which I shamefully don't invest in at this moment. What do I invest in?

I got a camera. I got this phone recently, because that is a nicer camera, and I felt really powerful because of that. Trying to think about what do I not invest in.

I guess I would say I'm pretty frugal. I can't think of-- oh, like if I want something at the grocery store, I'll generally get it, especially if I really like it. Also, energy drinks.

I drink them like once a day. So it's like, if you think about it for too long, it's a huge expense. Wait.

So those are all things you invest in. But, like what are you frugal about? Like transportation.

I'll take a bus, or a subway. There you go. Came up with it.

Got there. Well, that's good. Transportation is good.

But out of curiosity, you don't have to say the exact location, obviously, but where do you live? Well, right now I'm in London. But I haven't gone anywhere in three months.

But in general, I'm from New Jersey. Or like-- I'm moving soon-- but from the Northeast. I'm actually-- I'm thinking of moving to New York City.

I don't know if I'll dox my future self. But yeah, I'm thinking about doing that soon, because I live right around there. Oh my gosh.

Well, amazing. You should definitely-- why are you in London? Oh.

My girlfriend lives here. Oh, OK. Nice.

If you want someone to give you some New York City tips, I live here, so-- Hell yeah. What has been your best investment, and why? And that could be an object, or a decision, or anything like that.

I think my best investment, I mean, obviously, was not quitting my YouTube channel after six months, basically. I mean, I don't know what it was that made me want to do something, even though it wasn't paying off. People-- this is not short answer, I'm sorry-- my YouTube channel.

What has been your biggest money mistake, and why? Buying from Apple. Having Apple products pervade my life, probably.

Also, biggest money mistake-- I also used to live in like really bad Airbnbs instead of getting like an apartment or something like that. I should have spent more money on that. That's my belief, looking back on it.

It really affects your quality of life a lot, I think, to not have a place where you have three inches of space. I wouldn't recommend it, although I guess I had to do what I had to do. What is your biggest current money insecurity?

Oh, that I hate thinking, or talking, or touching it, right? Like, I don't want it near me at all. I don't have an unhealthy spending thing.

I don't spend it all, or anything like that. But I don't know how to invest. I don't want to touch it.

Every time I think about investing, I'm like we are at the tail end of COVID. Is there going to be a recession? And if so, is that a huge mistake, to throw my money in some kind of a fund?

Oh my God. Henry, let me talk to you. I will walk you through all of this.

You don't have to live this way, Henry. Please do, honestly. When I came on here, I was like, OK Chelsea, tell me what to do.

That would be boring for our audience, if that was the content of this podcast. But we will definitely-- we'll chat. We'll chat.

What has been the financial habit that has helped you the most? I just don't spend money on-- like, you know, on your channel, you talk a lot about people really enjoying shopping. I think probably because you're-- I feel like this is going to sound rude-- Sexist?

I'm just not-- I feel like your channel, you talked about having like a channel that appeals to mostly women. And I think that I'm definitely not putting anyone down, when I say that the obligation of shopping is a way bigger emphasis in women's lives. And I just don't get any pleasure whatsoever from buying anything, basically.

That was deftly worded. You managed to not make that a sexist comment, about women be shopping. Isn't that a huge pressure?

You know, well you talk about it on your channel all the time, like women feeling like they have to have a different outfit for work functions. It's not like frivolous to buy a ton of outfits, right? It's not like some stupid thing that you should feel like you should do.

A lot of women rightly feel like people judge them based on it. Totally. And we're also like the first-- one of the first generations of humans-- for whom fashion was not an incredibly restrictive and important social norm.

But it is true that our audience is like 85% women on YouTube, which is like unheard of for YouTube. That's nuts. Yeah, my audience is 70% boys.

And if many of my boys are watching this, how are you? [LAUGHTER] It was funny, by the way, I almost forgot-- when you said earlier, that you were like, I can tell, even like commenting about Jordan Peterson, there's going to be all these comments. And I'm like, not on our channel there won't, because-- Oh, well if I bring some of my boys with me, we'll get some discourse going down there. Get the boys in.

Our YouTube comment section is honestly like a little like tree house, where it's all women, and they're so nice. And any time there's like a really nasty or negative comment, they all get like swarmed and downvoted. So last question.

When did you first feel, quote, successful, and what does that word mean to you? I guess recently, honestly. I think that it's true, that I'm like-- being a YouTuber is something that-- one thing that really clinched it for me was that being a YouTuber is an extremely popular job among young people right now.

And I was like, yeah, you want to make video essays, don't you, young people? That's what you're interested in doing. You don't want to be Logan Paul.

But yeah, I think the fact that like-- I guess just thinking about just how raw, great I have it, really gets it going. You know? It's hard to deny that I have the best job in the world, right?

So I think-- I was about to say like, I don't really feel successful, but I feel like that's like a garbage, toxic thing to say, honestly. I agree. Well, Henry-- Big Joel-- it has been a huge pleasure.

We have so enjoyed having you on the show. Please tell all of our viewers and listeners where to go to learn more about you. Oh, you can go to, and you can watch one of my videos.

That's got to be my main way. You can also follow me on Twitter. We're also Big Joel.

And that's all the places. Oh, I also stream sometimes on Twitch. That's the three places.

That's awesome. That's a very boy trifecta. Thank you.

Yeah, and so I did ask you this before we started rolling, but just to clarify-- why Big Joel? Oh, I just think it's super funny. I don't know.

It makes me smile, like just like a big-- I don't know. Like there's something kind of inherently disarming about it, right? Like it's like oh, he's big Joel, whatever.

He's not doing anything. He's just over here being large. Don't touch him.

Now that I think of it, if your name was Joe, and your channel was Big Joel, that's a little strange. So-- I don't know. People assume that I think that-- OK so at the worst guy-- I'm sorry, I'm, making this too long, this podcast.

But the worst thing is when people are like, he calls himself Big Joel? Does he even work out? And it's like, no, I don't do that.

I don't work out. See, that's the kind of toxic commentary you would never receive in a TFD comment section. Yeah.

Yeah, you know, it's a good vibe. All right, guys. As always, it is a huge pleasure to be with you here every Monday, and I cannot wait to talk to you all again next Monday, on the next episode of The Financial Confessions.