Rich Dad, Poor Dad": Is Poverty a Choice?

One of the central claims in Rich Dad, Poor Dad is that people choose to be poor. That means that the 46.2 million people in the United States living in poverty choose to live that way every day. As you can imagine, this is a contentious claim.

There are some situations in which, perhaps, some people might choose to be poor – for instance, a young person from an upper-middle class background chooses to sell their art for a living rather than pursue a career in investment banking. However, this seems like less of a decision to be poor and more of a decision of how to spend one’s time and energy. It also seems to be more of a question of how society values labor differently (e.g. investment banking is seen as more important – and therefore more lucrative and rewarded – than creating art) than of whether or not we choose to be poor/rich.

Author Robert Kiyosaki doesn’t acknowledge that there could be larger systemic and societal reasons why some people are poor and others are not. The 46.2 million people living in poverty need only decide to be rich and free themselves from the “rat race” to enjoy the same level of success he has experienced in his life. He doesn’t believe that there are societal structures in place that make it nearly impossible to climb up the class ladder.

Kiyosaki creates a division between those who are enlightened and buy into capitalism and its tenets (e.g. business owners, investors, etc.) and those who are simply “hamsters” running endlessly on a wheel (e.g. employees of any kind ranging from janitors to professors).

Kiyosaki’s biological father, otherwise known as “Poor Dad”, was one of these hamsters. He was a well-educated professor who loved teaching, but never dreamt of being rich. Rich Dad, Poor Dad is primarily the story of Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad and the lessons he taught Kiyosaki as a child. However, after finishing Rich Dad, Poor Dad, one can’t help but wonder:  what is Poor Dad’s story? Is it simply a story of financial failure or is there more to life than getting rich?