I’ve never been a huge conspiracy theorist. Lately, though, my work on behalf of homeowners vis-

Book Review
Title: "Rich Dad’s Conspiracy of the Rich: The 8 New Rules of Money"
Author: Robert Kiyosaki
Publisher: Hachette Book Group, 2009; 272 pages; $12.99 list ($10.39 on amazon.com)

I’ve never been a huge conspiracy theorist. Lately, though, my work on behalf of homeowners vis-à-vis their mortgage banks has given me cause to rethink that stance. Banks are uber-competent when they want to be (consider: How many times have you accidentally gotten an extra $20 at the ATM?).

So, I’ve started to wonder whether the extensively illogical and faux-incompetent activity as a theme of many of the loss-mitigation divisions might have an ulterior motive.

I’m just arriving at a place of wondering whether a conspiracy might be afoot. At the end of that same path is popular "Rich Dad, Poor Dad" author Robert Kiyosaki.

In his new book, "Rich Dad’s Conspiracy of the Rich: The 8 New Rules of Money," Kiyosaki argues hard for his case that the banks, big industry and the ultra-rich have conspired with the federal government to create and maintain the Federal Reserve system, and to keep it flush with the funds of the average Joe — then using those funds to capitalize their own organizations (and those of their cronies) as needed.

Whether or not you agree with "The Da Vinci Code"-esque theme, there is something inarguably powerful about where Kiyosaki goes with it. For him, the upshot of all this conspiracy-speak is twofold. First, readers should stop waiting for salvation from the government and seize control over their own financial destinies.

And second, the way to seize this control is by achieving mastery in understanding money and how it works — or in Kiyosaki’s own words, "Money is knowledge."

This "Conspiracy" book is, in large part, a financial-education primer, with not-so-common-sense money lessons and inspirational finance messages interwoven with historical chronologies documenting various large-scale financial conspiracies and dilemmas and insights submitted by Kiyosaki’s audience in response to the draft chapters he posted online.

It just so happens to be organized in reference to the various conspiracies comprising Kiyosaki’s theory, e.g., "The Conspiracy Against Our Money," "The Conspiracy Against Our Wealth," and "The Conspiracy Against Our Financial Intelligence."

Some readers will be put off by the excessive conspiracy-speak. My guess is that many who would have grouped these tales of large-scale, intergenerational financial conspiracies right along with UFO tales and crop-circle lore might be primed more favorably in light of the global financial events of the last couple of years.

No matter how you are inclined to feel toward the conspiracy material, the strength of this book is that you could virtually ignore it — if it strikes you wrong, and still glean a number of thought-provoking, change-provoking insights about our collective economic history and your personal financial future. …CONTINUED

For example, Kiyosaki catalogues a number of government interventions into the economy since the Great Depression in a sidebar titled, "Fix or Farce." Given the list entries (including Social Security, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and unemployment insurance), one need only read the news — actually, one need only read the headlines — to realize how broken most of these fixes are. You don’t have to take Kiyosaki’s word for it.

The value of this book lies in the consistency with which, each time he addresses a particular conspiracy, Kiyosaki moves out of rant territory to provide a substantive "New Rule of Money" — indicating the proactive responses readers should take to various government or conspiracy economic manipulations.

After explicating the vagaries of the Federal Reserve System, for instance, Kiyosaki admonishes readers, "Rather than rail against the Fed, you should ask, ‘How can I minimize the effects of the Fed on my personal financial situation?’ " The entire second half of "Conspiracy" proceeds in this vein, indoctrinating readers to mitigate the damage potential of the conspiracies by managing their debt, managing cash flows and cultivating financial knowledge and awareness, then responding accordingly.

If you are a conspiracy theorist by nature you’ll probably enjoy this book far more than the ordinary personal finance how-to — in fact, you’ll find it to be a real page-turner. It does tend to get a little heavy-handed on the commercials for Kiyosaki’s Cash Flow Quadrant game, but since I happen to know that there are lots of grassroots opportunities to play the game without buying it (local Craigslist groups’ listings tend to be crawling with clubs), I didn’t find that to be too distracting.

Whether you’re on Team Grassy Knoll or Team Lone Shooter, "Rich Dad’s Conspiracy of the Rich" is well worth the investment of your time, if for no other reason than the breadth and depth of provocative financial education contained therein.

Tara-Nicholle Nelson is author of "The Savvy Woman’s Homebuying Handbook" and "Trillion Dollar Women: Use Your Power to Make Buying and Remodeling Decisions." Ask her a real estate question online or visit her Web site, www.rethinkrealestate.com.

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