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 © 2012 Ed Bagley

If you could choose only one, would you rather have money, power, fame or health? And why?

Most of us have had our share of ups and downs in life.

When we were at our lowest point, we probably wondered how different our life would be if we suddenly came into some found money, or increased influence, or instant and intense attention, or lost weight without real focus and discipline.

The tendency to think our future would change is irresistible. But would it change for the better?

Here’s my take on whether it’s smarter—given the opportunity—to choose money, power, fame or health:

Let’s start with money because “it makes the world go round’. Money can do a lot of things. It can make your creditors vanish. It can make lenders suck up to you. It can cause much poorer people to buy you dinner just to be in your company.

It can get you the best table at a restaurant on the waterfront with a view. It can get you a luncheon meeting with a celebrity or a top-end producer.

Money can also bring some unwanted attention. It attracts all manner of “gorgeous” suitors to your side, begging with eager eyes and huge mounds to put some bang into your evening. It can also bring tax problems and IRS agents, eager to take away your newfound cash.

It can bring friends and relatives you never had, with sob stories about how they need your cash more than you do. They will be the ones who will love you the most when they want the money, and then hate you the most when you don’t give it to them.

Even if you win millions in the lottery, the reality is that too many lottery winners lose the money they have not earned because they have never been taught or learned how to keep and grow money. Most lottery winners are like drunken sailors on leave, they use their six months at sea figuring how to spend all of their money on wants rather than needs.

Unfortunately, money seldom brings us anything of substance that really matters. Money cannot buy us happiness. Money cannot buy us love. Money cannot buy us health. The people without money can enjoy the simple pleasures of life just as easily as those with money–like sunrises, sunsets, walks in the park, playing board games, spending time with family and friends, working up a sweat exercising, reading a good book, or watching a movie or live theater.

Someone first said that the best things in life are free. And have you ever thought that if you won big bucks in the lottery, it would deprive you of the satisfaction of making it in the world on your own?  There is something important to be said about working hard and achieving your goals by clear thinking and sweat equity.

When it is difficult to earn money, you are not so anxious to spend it recklessly. When gifted or loaned money, it slips through your hands like a hot knife through butter.

Power is another matter. Power suggests influence and creates a welcome bed for wrong-doing. People with perceived power tend to use it for ill-gotten personal aggrandizement.

Daniel Webster had this to say about power: “Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters.”

Power among high-level bureaucrats is almost legendary, as many of them become dictators. Even low-level bureaucrats like to lord it over the citizens they should be serving rather than aggravating. Should you question their use of power, you might be subjected to a bevy of bureaucrats ready to do you substantial harm. All pigs eat out of the same trough.

Politicians on both sides of the fence tend to eat each other alive when in power. They think nothing of launching a Congressional investigation into a minor happening and, when both sides are in agreement to their benefit, they ignore inquiry into a major issue, such as taking a pay raise in a down economy while raising taxes to continue salary increases and benefits for their fellow government staff members and supporters.

The effect of power among high-level military officers and law enforcement officers is no less so, and they carry and use guns and associated weapons.

Lord Acton, an English historian, said “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Man, was he ever right. More than one inquiring soul has learned that it is best not to upset a high-level righteous bureaucrat, politician, military officer or law enforcement officer.

When I was managing editor of the daily newspaper in Westfield, Massachusetts, Teddy Kennedy and his handlers ALWAYS came calling for my endorsement during an election year. When I owned and operated a newspaper publishing company, many local citizens thought I had a power position in the community because of the newspaper I published.

When they told me so, I reminded them that the only power I had was what they thought I had; virtually all of them had no idea what I was talking about.

In truth, people are about as powerful as we believe them to be. When people in a power position start killing people and ruining the lives of others, their power becomes a lot more obvious.

There is also great danger in being powerful as someone always wants to kill you to replace you, and many a dictator has met death on his way to the forum. When you live by the sword, you can just as easily die by the sword.

Clearly, power is a dangerous game and, when combined with money, becomes toxic to control—the propensity to do wrong (and get caught) is all but inevitable.

And then there is fame. Andy Warhol coined the phrase “15 minutes of fame”, wherein a person experiences a short-lived, fleeting moment of publicity or celebrity that melts away faster than a dewdrop in the hot morning sun.

An example happened recently to a woman in New Jersey who went to the tanning booth so often she looked more like a deep-fried Twinkie than a responsible adult. All you need to know is that the “15 minutes of notoriety” did not cure her need to go to the tanning salon and, once informed, people quickly forgot about her.

There are several attention-getters willing to commit stupid pranks or even heinous crimes just to get noticed. Hollywood types who have fallen out of favor will do literally anything, even absurd behavior, just to get back into the news; they figure even bad news is better than no news, and they are absolutely right, too many of us are drawn to stupid behavior because it fools us into thinking it makes us look smarter for not having done so.

It has been said than fame is a fickle suitor. Once lost, it never seems the same again. Fame also comes to those who least expect it. There are a number of famous professional athletes who were stocking grocery shelves and three weeks later were playing the big leagues. It almost seems unfair that fame can come to you unannounced and then leave as suddenly as it arrived.

Some people can’t wait for fame to arrive, and others are upset when it does. Fame, even for 15 minutes, can be overwhelming, and fame that lasts can be unrelenting, presenting an opportunity and a paycheck for the paparazzi.

Health is given and can also be taken away. Some of us are born with a genetic makeup that allows us talent, intelligence and longevity, and, should we take advantage of the opportunities that life serves up, we can reap great benefits. This great possibility is cast against a youngster who, through no fault of his own, contracts and dies of cancer during a single-digit existence.

While we can contribute to our well-being through regular exercise, eating wisely and avoiding obvious dangers, a good half of who we are is genetic and cannot be influenced by our behavior, attitude or will. We are at the mercy of life itself, or a higher power when you develop a spiritual awareness and choose to believe in a greater power.

That said, I believe I would choose health over money, power or fame. At the very least, without health I probably would not be a candidate for money, fame or power given my own volition and means. 

In its best state, health allows me to enjoy life without significant money, fame or power. Sometimes it is better to be the captain of your own rowboat than a 5th mate on an ocean liner. Good health allows you to be self-sufficient, independent, responsible and accountable for your own actions. I really determine my own success or failure. I can really only control myself, and even not then when I lose my health.

I would rather lose money, fame and power than my health. Should I lose money, fame or power, it can be potentially gained back again through focus, hard work and determination. Health, once lost, is never regained. Should you lose your eyesight, it will be gone forever.

Give me health, something to do, someplace to go and someone to love, and I will be happy, because people are, as Abe Lincoln has said, about as happy as they want to be.

Never forget that when we blame others for our condition in life, we give up our ability to change. Worse yet, if we lack the will for change, there is no one who can show us the way. We can only become better by being willing to change, and making better choices in doing so.

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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.