In an Over-Communicated, Intrusive World, Simple is Better
Ed

Clason’s “The Richest Man in Babylon” Part 2 – The 7 Cures for a Lean Wallet and The 5 Laws of Money

Copyright © 2007 Ed Bagley

Part 1 of this 2 Part series ends the synopsis of George Clason’s book “The Richest Man in Babylon,” but Clason raises an important question: Why should
so few men be able to acquire so much gold?

The answer is because they know how.

One may not condemn a man for succeeding because he knows how. Neither may one with justice take away from a man what he has fairly earned, to give to men of less ability.

And so it was that the good king of Babylon sought out the richest man in Babylon to teach to others in his kingdom the secrets of his success.

This is a synopsis of what the richest man taught to the people
of Babylon:

The Seven Cures for a Lean Wallet

1) Start your wallet to fattening. Save one-tenth of all you earn. Remember that a part
of all I earn is mine to keep. Do this faithfully. Do not let the simplicity of this escape you.

When I ceased to pay out more than nine-tenths of my earnings,
I got along just as well.
I was not shorter than before, and, money came to me more easily than before.

2) Control your expenses. How is it that all do not earn the same yet all have lean wallets? Here is the truth: That which each of us calls our “necessary expenses” will always grow to equal our incomes unless we protest to
the contrary.

Confuse not necessary expenses with desires. We all have more desires than our earnings can gratify. Examine which of the accepted expenses of living can be reduced or eliminated. Let your motto be 100% of appreciated value demanded for every dollar spent.

Budget your expenses so that your actual necessities are met without spending more than nine-tenths of your earnings.

3) Make your money multiply. Protect your growing treasure by putting it to labor and increasing. Money in your wallet earns nothing. Money that we earn from our money is but a start; it is the earnings generating earnings that builds fortunes.

When the richest man in Babylon loaned money to the shield maker to buy bronze, he said this: “Each time I loaned money to the shield maker, I loaned back also the rental he had paid me. Therefore not only did my capital increase, but its earnings likewise increased.”

4) Guard your money from loss. Everyone has an idea of how to make quick money; few, however, have the evidence of making money to justify their idea, scheme or offer of quick riches. The first sound principle of investment is security for your principal.

Before you loan your money to any man assure yourself of his ability to repay your loan, and of his reputation to do so. Make no one a present of your hard-earned treasure.

Consult the wisdom of those experienced in handling money for profit. Such advice is often freely given for
the asking, and may possess more value than the amount you
are about to invest.

5) Make your home a profitable investment. When you can set aside only nine-tenths of what you earn to live, and can use a part of that nine-tenths to improve the investment in your housing, do it; owning your own home is also an investment that grows with your wealth.

Your family deserves a home they can enjoy and call their own. It builds a sense of stability and well-being.

6) Ensure a future income. Build income-producing assets that do not require you to work forever. We will all grow old and die.

You should prepare a suitable income for the days to come when you are no longer younger and cannot work as hard, and to make preparations for your family should you no longer be with them to comfort and support them. Provide in advance for the needs of your growing age, and the protection of your family.

7) Increase your
ability to earn.
Desire precedes accomplishment, and the desire must be strong and definite. When you have backed your desire for saving $1,000 with the strength and purpose to secure it, you can then save $2,000.

Desires must be simple and definite. Desires defeat their own purpose when they are too many, too confusing, or too difficult to accomplish. Cultivate your own powers to study and become wiser, more skillful, and more productive.

Here is more sage advice from Clason’s masterpiece on financial matters:

The 5 Laws of Money

If you had to choose, would you choose tons of money or wisdom? Most men would take the money, ignore the wisdom, and waste the money. Here is the wisdom:

1) Money comes gladly and in increasing quantities to any man who will put aside not less than one-tenth of his earnings to create an estate for his future and the future of his family.

2) Money labors diligently and contently for the wise owner who finds for it profitable employment, multiplying unto itself in infinity if kept working diligently. Money multiplies itself in surprising fashion.

3) Money clings to
the protection of the cautious owner who invests it with the advice of men wise
in its handling.

4) Money slips away from the man who invests it in businesses or purposes that he is not familiar with, or which are not approved by those skilled in its keep. The inexperienced handler of money who trusts his own judgment, and puts his money in investments which he is not familiar, always pays with his money for his experience.

5) Money flees the man who would force it to impossible earnings, or who follows the alluring advice of tricksters and schemers, or who
trusts it to his own inexperience and romantic desires in investment.

Here is the hard lesson of the 5 Laws of Money: You cannot measure the value of wisdom in bags of money. Without wisdom, those who have it quickly lose money, but with wisdom, money can be secured by those who have it not.

This ends the condensation.

Copyright © 2008 Ed Bagley

Is it possible for an excellent, groundbreaking film in a specific genre to be overlooked at award ceremonies? Absolutely, and a perfect example is “A Fistful of Dollars” that gave rise to what we commonly identify today as “the spaghetti Western”.

A Fistful of Dollars was the first of Director Sergio Leone’s masterpiece trilogy that would be followed by “For A Few Dollars More” and “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly”. It was Leone who realized that the American-made Westerns of the 1950s had become nothing more or less than housing developments designed with a cookie-cutter pattern of staleness.

Leone’s answer was to shoot the film as if he was orchestrating an opera. The result would become the model for many Westerns to come, featuring his trademark taciturn characters, precise framing, extreme close-ups and the haunting music of Ennio Morricone.

All of this would give rise to “The Man With No Name” (Clint Eastwood), who was originally referred to as “Joe” in A Fistful of Dollars, but became The Man With No Name in the sequels.

I am very boffo on this film and for good reason. The combination of Leone’s direction is excellent given Morricone’s music, the cinematography by Massimo Dallamano and Federico Larraya, film editing by Roberto Cinquini and Alfonso Santacana, and sound by Elio Pacella. A Fistful of Dollars was shot in the Spanish province of Almeria.

Despite its credentials, A Fistful of Dollars would win only one award—the Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists’ Silver Ribbon for the Best Score by Ennio Morricone. You could see this film for the musical score alone and come away very impressed.

Released in 1964, A Fistful of Dollars would not make its American debut until 1967. The film’s arrival here was delayed when “Yojimbo” screenwriters Akira Kurosawa and Ryuzo Kikushima sued for breach of copyright and won, receiving 15% of the film’s worldwide gross and exclusive distribution rights for Japan, Taiwan and South Korea. Kurosawa said later he made more money off this project than he did on Yojimbo, which was released 3 years earlier. The screenplay was written by A. Bonzzoni, Victor Andres Catena and Sergio Leone.

The story is about a gunfighter (Clint Eastwood) who comes to a small border town and offers his services to two rival gangs—the Rojos and the Baxters.

The Rojos include the dangerous Ramon (Gian Maria Volonte), Esteban (Sieghardt Rupp) and Don Benito (Antonio Prieto), Ramon’s girlfriend Marisol (Marianne Koch), Rubio (Benito Stefanelli) and Chico (Mario Brega). The Baxters include John (Wolfgang Lukschy), his wife Consuelo (Margarita Lozano) and a bevy of additional lesser-light banditos on both sides.

The bell-ringer in the film, Juan De Dios (Raf Baldassarre) warns the gunfighter, “you’ll get rich here, or you’ll be killed.” The gunfighter later acknowledges that the “crazy bell-ringer was right, there’s money to be made in a place like this.”

Neither gang is aware of The Man With No Name’s ploy to play one against the other, each thinking they are using him against their rival, but the gunfighter will outwit them both.

Along the way he will personally kill at least 14 of them, get the Rojos to completely obliterate the rest of the Baxter gang, rescue the kidnapped wife and return her to her family so they can safely escape, rescue the innkeeper Silvanito (Jose Calvo), and eliminate Ramon Rojo in a classic showdown worthy of any Western movie every made and too good to share here.

Another actor to watch in this film is Piripero the undertaker (Joseph Egger), who provides the avenue for The Man With No Name’s escape when he is incapable of doing so on his own.

The genius of Sergio Leone is seen in one of the film’s earliest scenes. As the gunfighter rides slowly into town, 3 Baxter gang members fire shots to scare the mule he is riding. After some food and whiskey, the gunfighter confronts his tormentors with this dialog:

“I don’t think it’s nice, you laughin’. You see, my mule don’t like people laughing. He gets the crazy idea you’re laughing at him. Now if you apologize, like I know you’re going to, I might convince him that you really didn’t mean it.”

Properly incensed and challenged, 4 key Baxter gang members draw to fire and are cut down in a blink of an eye by The Man With No Name.
While the dialog and action in this scene are excellent, Leone’s direction is even more so and here is why: In American films, when a cowboy was shot, one camera was ALWAYS focused on the shooter and a split second later, another camera cut to the victim. Leone captured the scene with the camera over Eastwood’s shoulder, so the moviegoer could vicariously witness the shooting as if he was doing the shooting.

Leone’s genius was as powerful today—44 years later—as an interactive web site on the Internet, both of which did not exist in 1964. No wonder it is so easy for moviegoers today to experience his genius.

A Fistful of Dollars is too good not to experience. Like so many films that are expected to be nothing and become classics in movie history, the role of The Man With No Name is littered with big names who did not play the role when an unknown like Clint Eastwood did.

This list includes Henry Fonda, James Coburn, Charles Bronson and Richard Harrison. Harrison would later acknowledge that “maybe my greatest contribution to cinema was not doing A Fistful of Dollars and recommending Clint for the part.”

Eastwood had been in the television series “Rawhide” prior to being tapped for the role. He helped build the character of The Man With No Name by buying black jeans form a sport shop on Hollywood Boulevard, buying the hat he wore from a Santa Monica wardrobe firm, and buying his trademark black cigars from a Beverly Hills store. He cut the cigars into thirds to give them a more distinctive look.

Leone was reportedly taken with Eastwood’s distinctive style, commenting in Italian that “I like Clint Eastwood because he has only two facial expressions: one with the hat, and one without it.”

Like another tremendously successful actor Tom Hanks, Eastwood knew how to instinctively exude enormous charisma that was never evident in his low-key style. Any real man in America would be proud to strap on The Man With No Name’s gun belt and pistol. Is A Fistful of Dollars a guy film? Certainly.

Leone did not direct the first spaghetti western ever made, but his was the first one to receive a major international release, not to mention the fact that it launched Clint Eastwood on an incredibly successful career as one of Hollywood’s most popular, profitable and bankable actors and directors ever.

Financial Thoughts on Investing by Warren Buffett

(Ed’s Note: The following condensation is from The Tao of Warren Buffett, written by Mary Buffett and David Clark and available for sale at Amazon and bookstores nationwide. I am always impressed by what Warren Buffett has to say and am doing this condensation to help promote their book.)

On Investing: I made my first investment at age 11. I was wasting my life up until then.
(Ed’s Note: The first lesson of investing is patience. Start early and sit on your investment until it has time to hatch, it may take 20 or 30 years to hatch, but if you are in the right investment you will do very well. Do not keep moving your money into and out of different investments—all that does is make your broker rich at your expense.)

(Ed’s Note: For more of Warren Buffet’s advice go to the menu bar above and click on Financial Thoughts.)

“A Man for All Seasons” Demonstrates What Integrity Should Be in the Middle Ages and Now

 

A Man for All Seasons – 4 Stars (Excellent)

“A Man for All Seasons” poses the question: What would a man sacrifice for his principles?

When King Henry VIII (Robert Shaw) seeks approval to divorce his aging wife Catherine of Aragon who could not bear him a son, and marry his mistress Anne Boleyn,
the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church stand
in his way.

Henry VIII’s new Chancellor of England and Cardinal–
Sir Thomas More (Paul Scofield)—stands in his way as well. Henry VIII wants Sir Thomas More’s blessing in his action but does not
get it as Sir Thomas More, a good Catholic and Cardinal, will not go
along with such heresy.

More resigns as chancellor, seeking to live out his life as a private citizen, but Henry VIII will settle for nothing less than More’s public approval of his headstrong course. Sir Thomas refuses to either endorse or denounce the King’s action, and remains a man of principle.

Great effort is made to convince More to change his stance on Henry VIII’s action. One of More’s rivals, Thomas Cromwell (Leo McKern); another religious, Cardinal Wolsey (Orson Welles); and The Duke of Norfolk (Nigel Davenport)
all take their turns at More.

One example is when More testifies before an inquiry committee and Norfolk attempts to persuade him to sign an oath of allegiance:

Norfolk: “Look, I’m not a scholar, and frankly I don’t know whether the marriage was lawful or not—but Thomas, look at these names! You know these men! Can’t you do as I did and come along with us for fellowship?”

More: “And when we stand before God, and you are sent to Heaven for doing according to your conscience, and I am sent to hell for not doing according to mine, will you come along with me—for fellowship?”

There are several lines by More that merit mention but there is not enough space to do so. Here is one of the best: “I think that when statesmen forsake their own private conscience for the sake of their public duties, they lead their country by
a short route to chaos.”

Sir Thomas More was a very smart and savvy—as well as principled—man.

Henry VIII gets every person of any consequence in England to sign his oath (the Act of Supremacy), endorsing his action, except Sir Thomas who will not sign, and remains silent as to the reason why he will not sign.

Cromwell is an English statesman and the chief minister to King Henry VIII. It is Cromwell who presides over King Henry’s divorce from Catherine of Aragon in 1533 and Henry’s subsequent break with the Roman Catholic Church.

When More proves himself to be loyal to King Henry VIII by not speaking out against him and also shows himself to be a loyal subject by not inciting rebellion, Cromwell appears to prosecute Sir Thomas out of personal spite.

In the end, Sir Thomas is the only person in England who will die for his principles, and commit himself to God for judgment. He is betrayed by an ambitious, lower level appointed attorney general, Richard (John Hurt), whose outright lie condemns Sir Thomas to be beheaded.

Sir Thomas More loses his head (no pun intended) but most importantly, not his soul. Sir Thomas is later canonized as Saint Thomas More by the Roman Catholic Church.

Henry VIII subsequently dies of syphilis, and the evil Thomas Cromwell who orchestrates Sir Thomas More’s tragic demise is himself judged a traitor to England 5 years later and is also beheaded. And what was the FINAL fate of More’s adversaries — Thomas Cromwell, Cardinal Wolsey and The Duke of Norfolk? Only God knows.

The riff subsequently leads to England’s split from the Roman Catholic Church and the creation of the Anglican Church, the Church of England.

A Man for All Seasons does not deviate from the truth of Sir Thomas More’s stance, and as such provides a role model for acting with right thinking and right motives, even at the cost of one’s life.

What makes A Man for All Seasons even more impressive is that the plot for the movie is based on the true story of Sir Thomas More. Sir Thomas More was a scholar and statesman who became the leading humanist of the Renaissance Era.

A Man for All Seasons is
a story about everything that is right in England and life (Sir Thomas More’s integrity to his principles) and everything that is wrong in England and life (greed, avarice, lust, lying, cheating, stealing, the corruption of power, and the corruption of religious leaders).

A Man for All Seasons was writer Robert Bolt’s greatest success, first as a play and then as the screenplay for its 1966 movie release following a successful Broadway run. Bolt’s 16th Century period piece has exacting details of the era.

A Man for All Seasons would win 6 Oscars at the 1967 Academy Awards: Best Picture (Fred Zinnemann), Best Director (Fred Zinnemann), Best Writing (Robert Bolt), Best Actor (Paul Scofield), Best Cinematography (Ted Moore) and Best Costume Design (Elizabeth Haffenden and Joan Bridge).

The film also received Oscar nominations for Best Supporting Actor (Robert Shaw) and Best Supporting Actress (Wendy Hiller as Sir Thomas More’s wife Alice).

In addition the movie garnered another 27 wins and 5 nominations, including Golden Globe wins for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Actor and a nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

Interestingly, Charlton Heston lobbied heavily for the role of Sir Thomas More, but was not seriously considered. Richard Burton was offered the part and turned it down.

The producers originally wanted Laurence Olivier as Thomas More and Alec Guinness as Wosley, but Director Fred Zinnemann insisted on Paul Scofield and Orson Welles in the roles. The rest is history. Zinnemann obviously knew how to direct a great film and create a huge box office success.