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.

My Big Fat Greek Wedding – 4 Stars (Excellent)

My Big Fat Greek Wedding is simply one of the best movies ever made about close families and their traditions.

This film is on par with Fiddler on the Roof (winner of 3 Oscars among 8 nominations) and A Christmas Story (winner of no major awards and no Oscar nominations), proving that the biggest award-winners are not the only great movies.

A Christmas Story and My Big Fat Greek Wedding were matched bookends in that both films were not thought to be worthy of financing by typical Hollywood backers and ended up as independent films with limited distribution before becoming huge successes.

A Christmas Story, a low budget film that was not expected to do well, was released just before Thanksgiving in 1983. By Christmas the film had been pulled from theaters because it was thought to have been “played out.” It was only because of complaints from moviegoers that it was brought back to life and has since developed a loyal following of fans that will not let it die.

My Big Fat Greek Wedding was filmed because a gutsy Greek girl named Nia Vardalos believed in herself and in her one-woman stage show to keep performing until Rita Wilson saw the play. She persuaded her husband Tom Hanks to produce a movie version.

Wilson, like Vardalos, is Greek. Wilson’s reward as one of the producers with her husband and Gary Goetzman was to see the project completed. The PGA Golden Laurel Awards remembered Rita Wilson by giving her the Visionary Award in 2003. The three producers also won the Golden Laurel Award for Producer of the Year.

So we have in My Big Fat Greek Wedding a low budget, independent film that was about to make Hollywood history.

To show you how dumb the Hollywood financial backers were and how smart Tom Hanks was the estimated $5 million budget for My Big Fat Greek Wedding generated worldwide revenue of $368 million.

The Hollywood backers thought America filmgoers would not accept an ethnic film. I wonder how many of the same backers recognized that Fiddler on the Roof, produced 31 years earlier in 1971, was an ethnic film about a Jewish family which broke with the tradition of arranged marriages.

My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002) became the highest-grossing independent film of all time, surpassing The Blair Witch Project (1999). It also became the highest grossing movie never to have hit number one at the box office, surpassing Dances of the Wolves (1990). Incredibly , the film was still running in several theaters even after its initial video release.

This film is essentially the story of Toula (Nia Vardalos), a 30-year-old Greek woman who falls in love with John (Ian Miller), a non-Greek man, and struggles to get her family to accept him while both of them come to terms with their heritage, cultural identity and mutual compatibility.

As Toula says, “Nice Greek girls are supposed to do three things in life: marry Greek boys, make Greek babies, and feed everyone . . . until the day we die.”

Her father, Gus Portokalos (Michael Constantine) says: “You better get married soon. You’re starting to look old!” Gus also says, “There are only two kinds of people, Greeks and people who wish they were Greek.” He believes any ailment can be cured with Windex.

My Big Fat Greek Wedding is the Greek community at its most accurate and best, all of the suffocating love, demanded tradition, motivation by guilt, male ego, female influence, pride of race, sibling ties, extended family, romance and sacrifice for those we love.

This film is not heavy and dripping with drama, this is a romantic comedy mixed with strong family traditions that proves Shakespeare’s sage observation that “all’s well that ends well.”

The cast is not star-studded and proves that you do not need to be a headliner to deliver a headliner’s performance and then some. Joining Nia Vardalos, Michael Constantine and Ian Miller with significant and meaningful contributions were Lainie Kazan as Toula’s mother Maria, Louis Mandylor as Toula’s brother Nick, Andrea Martin as Aunt Voula, and Gia Carides as Cousin Nikki.

Vardalos, Constantine, Mandylor and Carides were the only true Greeks in the cast.

There is a point in the film when Toula feels she is losing the battle and laments that “the man is the head of the house.” Her mother Maria tells her that “the man is the head, but the woman is the neck, and she can turn the head any way she wants.” Maria does so in a confrontation with her husband that should make women proud.

This film will warm you heart, entertain your soul and cause you to walk away a better person for having seen this superb effort in moviemaking. Toula’s personal growth as a young woman freeing herself from forced expectations against insufferable odds is so precious that you want to take her home and adopt her.

I once went to a Polish funeral and was amazed that when the funeral was over and the reception began, the whiskey flowed and all of the immediate family and friends had a heck of great party drinking, dancing and singing. I learned more about family traditions in different cultures at that Polish funeral. Some cultures celebrate the life of a loved one after the funeral.

Despite the complications presented in My Big Fat Greek Wedding you come away wanting to be Greek because you see the love and the fun that they have much more than any disagreements or disappointments.

The interaction between Toula and her brother Nick is really sweet, touching and funny.

At one point, Nick is impressed with Toula’s ability to break with tradition (he secretly wants to study art) and says, “Don’t let your past dictate who you are, but let it be part of who you will become.” “Nick, that’s beautiful,” replies Toula, to which Nick adds, “Yeah, that dear Abby really knows what she’s talking about.”

Nia Vardalos wrote the script and earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Screenplay, was nominated for 6 other lesser screenwriting awards and won 2. My Big Fat Greek Wedding is directed by Joel Zwick who won two minor awards for his effort. I feel he deserved more recognition.

The film garnered little attention among the big award givers but did appropriately win the People’s Choice Award for Favorite Comedy. Almost as an afterthought, My Big Fat Greek Wedding won the Best Independent Comedy Film Award from the U. S. Comedy Arts Festival. It would be my pleasure if some of the Comedy Film Award judges were Greek.

There is Greek love throughout this film, from Rita Wilson’s vision to the thousands of Greek Americans who said, hey, this is Greek, this is good. The Greek community really made the film become a box office record-setter while we non-Greeks came on board later and enjoyed the film just as much.

When I left the theater, I went looking for ouzo, the Greek anise-flavored liqueur so celebrated in the film at Greek gatherings. They would down a shot of ouzo and shout “oumpa.”

I married a girl from a very traditional Italian Catholic family. Every Christmas my wife makes Italian cookies with anise-flavored frosting, no wonder I loved My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

Anyone who wants a job watching My Big Fat Greek Wedding should be Greek, love ouzo and love having fun. Others need not apply unless, of course, they might want to be Greek, want to try ouzo, and have fun!

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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.