Sunday, July 26, 2009

Who is Marty Nemko?

A number of readers of this blog have privately emailed me, wanting to know more about who am I. They ask such questions as, "Are you a Republican?" or "Are you telling the truth: How can you blog so much if you're supposedly this busy career counselor, editor at U.S. News & World Report, columnist for Kiplinger, and host of two radio shows?"


Politically, I think I can best be described as a cross between a blue dog Democrat and a Libertarian:

I think lightly regulated capitalism is the best economic system but believe that big government is doomed to waste huge amounts of our money, growing ever larger and more invasive, making many policies that are popular and even yielding short-term benefit yet ultimately unwise: for example, bailouts, Cash for Clunkers, spending big on an attempt to cool the planet, and most redistributive "justice" social programs.

The latter I believe are not only ineffective (e.g., the vaunted Head Start and welfare-to-work job training programs,) they ultimately devastate a society, as in the case of affirmative action, which, in practice, often turns out to be reverse discrimination. I feel similarly about multiculturality: it does balkanize us. I believe we need less pluribus and more unum. I believe we should think of ourselves not as hyphenated Americans, not as Americans, but as world citizens, making our decisions about what would be best overall, not just for our gender, racial or ethnic group, or for America.

The latter, of course, reveals the liberal side of me. I hold other liberal values. I am strongly pro-choice and pro-gay marriage, and in favor of allowing people the right to assisted suicide. I am in favor of a single-payer health care system with two tiers: basic health care for all and a significantly higher level of care for people who fully pay into the system. I believe Americans are too materialistic and that giving money to cost-effective charity is a far better use of money than spending it on fancy houses, cars, clothes, vacations, jewelry, day spas--or on taxes. (I lament the amount of tax I pay, not to mention the large amount of time it takes to prepare my income tax returns.)

I believe we are utterly dishonest about race, much to the world's detriment. That's why I've spent so much time lately on this blog encouraging a full-dimensioned discussion about the racial achievement gap.

And now on to what I do to be maximally productive. Core to it all, I value productivity over all else--I believe I am worthy to the extent I am productive. That makes it easy for me to be motivated to work. Secondary to that but also important, I try to do work that comes easily to me--writing, for example. Also, I always have a little voice on my shoulder asking myself, "Is this task worth doing" and "Is this the most time-effective way to get the task done?" For example, my meals, while healthy, take almost no time to prepare: typically, oatmeal for breakfast, tuna sandwich and fruit for lunch, a big salad for dinner. I exercise by doing professional reading while on the exercise bike in my basement. Also key to my productivity, I avoid time sucks: I watch almost no TV, don't play golf, and avoid unnecessary travel. I do allow myself time to act in and direct plays and to attend community theatre productions, which I believe may be America's most underrated entertainment. I spend little time with my friends--mainly talking with them when I'm in the car driving to my radio shows or to see my wife.

Speaking of my wife, Dr. Barbara Nemko and I will have been together for 37 years this October. She (along with my dog, Einstein) is the love of my life. For 25 years, we lived together in Oakland, California but when she was elected Napa County Superintendent of Schools, she was required to live there. Because many of my career counseling clients live near Oakland and because I work a zillion hours a week anyway, we decided to live apart during the week and get together one night a week and on weekends. It's unconventional but, for us, it works well, frankly better than if we were together 24/7.

That may be more than you want to know but if you want to know even more, I'm pleased to answer your questions. I'm grateful that so many people read this blog and am happy to let you know more about me.


Dave said...

Perhaps you can take comfort in knowing that my former landlady emjoyed a similar living arrangement with her husband.

On multiculturalism/cultural relativism -- I'm ordering the book below. I think it will perk your ears up.

Jason said...

My parents have a similar type of living arrangement and it has worked for them.

Anonymous said...

Marty what is a blue dog democrat?

Marty Nemko said...

A Blue Dog Democrat is socially liberal and fiscally conservative.

Becky @ PCC said...

Don't forget super smart!

Dave said...

All of them are fiscally conservative, but many are socially conservative as well. Many are pro-life and pro-gun. Even the moderates are against sexual deviations and other things in the liberal arsenal that destroy tradition and undermine the family unit.

Marty Nemko said...

Well, like all of us, no one label fully characterizes us. I guess "a cross between fiscal conservative and libertarian" more closely describes me but the narrative explains me better still.

Shawn said...

I admire the fact that you are self-employed. I have always wanted to be self-employed, but I have never had the finances to cover the mortgage, etc., and was in always afraid of failure, there.

Can a career counselor make decent money? Just curious--you do not have to tell me how much you make, but if there is an average I am curious. How many clients would you guess someone would have to have a week?

I would like to start a hedge fun, because I like the idea that I can just as easily work in my state as I could in Europe, Mexico, you name it! I hear it costs $40k to have a lawyer draw up the docs, and I have no idea how to raise money.

Dave said...

"I spend little time with my friends--mainly talking with them when I'm in the car driving to my radio shows or to see my wife."

Like you, I also believe friendships, family and romantic entanglements (including marriage) are overrated. A spouse can plug you into numerous time-wasting social networks. She/He grows to resent you for lacking in one department or another -- i.e. domestic duties, career, children, sexual performance. Relations with offspring deteriorate over time. Many never leave the nest. My brother and I live with our parents and we're both in our 30s. It's demoralizing for all of us....

I am beginning to think that most of us are better off alone.

Marty Nemko said...


I make an upper middle-class living as a career counselors but most struggle.

Hedge funds will come under increased regulation and you will be competing against some of the brightest minds--and even they don't have an easy time beating the indices.

Shawn said...

Dr. Nemko,

Thanks for the response. So I have another question you may be able to answer: If you could do it all over again, knowing that you are going ot be a career counselor, would you complete the PhD? I mean, wouldn't a B.A./B.S. be enough for credibility?

Marty Nemko said...

Yes, I would have stopped after a bachelor's. I learned VERY little of value in my 6-year PhD program and I'd feel like a huckster spending so much time doing something for credibility rather than obtaining expertise. My rule would be and is, "Go for the steak, not the sizzle."

I'd feel that I could establish credibility by displaying my wares: my articles, a first session, etc.