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

Yes, Virginia, There
Is a Santa Claus

 
Copyright © 2007
by Ed Bagley

(Editor’s Note: The following editorial by Francis P. Church was first published in The New York Sun in 1897 in response to an
8-year-old girl’s letter to the editor, and is arguably the most famous editorial ever written in an American newspaper. This incredible piece of writing happened when newspapers were the primary means of communication. In 1897 there was no mass communication by radio, television, computers, cell phones and the associated technical goodies we have today. Readers actually believed and trusted in newspapers. Now we do not believe and trust in newspapers anymore than we do in politicians.)

Here is how Francis P. Church responded to Virginia O’Hanlon’s letter:

“We take pleasure in answering thus prominently the communication below, expressing at the same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of The Sun:

Dear Editor—
I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, “If you see it in The Sun, it’s so.” Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?
Virginia

Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except (in what) they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds.

All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy.

Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The external light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies. You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if you did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove?

Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal (supernal means “of exceptional quality or extent”) beauty and glory beyond.

Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding. No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.”

About the Exchange
Francis P. Church’s editorial, “Yes Virginia, There is a Santa Claus” was an immediate sensation, and went on to became one of the most famous editorials ever written. It first appeared in The New York Sun in 1897, more than a hundred years ago, and was reprinted annually until 1949 when the paper went out of business.

Thirty-six years after her letter was printed, Virginia O’Hanlon recalled the events that prompted her letter:

“Quite naturally I believed in Santa Claus, for he had never disappointed me. But when less fortunate little boys and girls said there wasn’t any Santa Claus,
I was filled with doubts.
I asked my father, and he was a little evasive on the subject.

It was a habit in our family that whenever any doubts came up as to how to pronounce a word or some question of historical fact was in doubt, we wrote to the Question and Answer column in The Sun. Father would always say, ‘If you see it in the The Sun, it’s so,’ and that settled the matter.

‘Well, I’m just going to write The Sun and find out the real truth,’ I said to father.

He said, ‘Go ahead, Virginia. I’m sure The Sun will give you the right answer, as it always does’.”

And so Virginia sat down and wrote her parents’ favorite newspaper.

Her letter found its way into the hands of a veteran editor, Francis P. Church. Son of a Baptist minister, Church had covered the Civil War for The New York Times and had worked on the The New York Sun for 20 years, more recently as an anonymous editorial writer.

Church, a sardonic man, had for his personal motto, “Endeavour to clear your mind of cant.” When controversial subjects had to be tackled on the editorial page, especially those dealing with theology, the assignments were usually given to Church.

Now, he had in his hands a little girl’s letter on a most controversial matter, and he was burdened with the responsibility of answering it.

“Is there a Santa Claus?” the childish scrawl in the letter asked. At once, Church knew that there was no avoiding the question. He must answer, and he must answer truthfully. And so he turned to his desk, and he began his reply that was to become one of the most memorable editorials in newspaper history.

Church married shortly after the editorial appeared. He died in 1906, leaving no children.

Virginia O’Hanlon went on to graduate from Hunter College with a Bachelor of Arts degree at age 21. The following year she received her Master’s from Columbia University, and in 1912 she began teaching in the New York City school system, later becoming a principal. After 47 years, she retired as an educator.

Throughout her life she received a steady stream of mail about her Santa Claus letter, and to each reply she attached an attractive printed copy of the Church editorial. Virginia O’Hanlon Douglas died on May 13, 1971, at the age of 81, in a nursing home in Valatie, N.Y.

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 © 2010 Ed Bagley

An article by Katie Johnston Chase appeared in The Boston Globe on June 22, 2010. It talks about “dumbing down” your resume to get hired. I could not disagree more with this tactic, and will explain why.

But first, here is the article by Katie Johnston Chase:

After hearing from several potential employers that he was overqualified, high-tech salesman Joe Collins of Medfield worked with a recruiter to come up with two resumes. One emphasized revenue gains and the number of people he oversaw as a manager; the other omitted those details, concentrating instead on his hands-on sales experience.

Collins, 55, figured that someone looking to fill a routine sales job might review his more high-powered management experience and assume: “He’s only going to hang around until he finds something else.”

As the tight job market forces the unemployed to apply for lower-level positions, more job seekers are “dumbing down” credentials, wiping graduate degrees and high-level experience off their resumes, recruiters say.

Applicants say the idea is to get hiring managers to at least look at their resumes, instead of figuring someone with extra qualifications will demand a bigger salary or leave for a higher-level opportunity once the economy turns around.

But too much background doctoring can be risky. Wakefield recruiter Bruce Allen, who has had more clients ask about altering their resumes during the economic downturn, stopped short of calling it unethical, but he said leaving off degrees and experience may come back to haunt job seekers. It’s hard to hide skills in an interview, he said. Background checks and the Internet can also quickly reveal what job seekers leave out.

“It’s less about ethics and more about what kind of quicksand are you about to step into,” said Allen, of Point B Search, who helped Collins craft his resumes.

Modifying a resume to fit a specific opening is nothing new, but when jobs are scarce, recruiters say, applicants are more willing to undersell themselves. Stephen Ford, of the career consulting firm OI Partners in Concord, sees this resume customization — not mentioning that you managed a $1 million budget if the company you’re applying to has a half-a-million-dollar budget, as he counseled one job seeker — as a way to broaden a job seeker’s appeal.

“I think we see it in each deep recession,” Ford said.

Former Web analyst Nicholas Carroll, who was laid off from his consulting job for IBM in 2008, is such a believer in dumbing down resumes that he dedicated a section of his 2009 e-book, “The Layoff Survival Plan,” to it.

In the section titled “How to Downgrade Your Resume for a Tight Job Market,” Carroll recommends taking titles down one peg, from director to manager, from manager to specialist.

Carroll removed his bachelor’s degree in technology management after he lost a job as a website developer during the dot.com collapse of the late ’90s in order not to appear overqualified for blue-collar work, and he didn’t stop there.

During an interview for a management position at Econo Lube `N Tune, “I deliberately hesitated a quarter second before every answer,” he said, and at one point decided to fake a “faint look of panic.”

The morning after the interview, he said, he was offered the job. “Somebody finds out you know that much more than they do, they get nervous,” Carroll said.

That’s true, says Robert Akerlof, a post-doctoral associate at the MIT Sloan School of Management, who is working on a theory about how it can be difficult to maintain authority over overqualified workers if they think a job, or a boss, is beneath them.

Dumbing down a resume is a way for job seekers to show that they are going to be respectful, said Akerlof, citing the “20 percent rule,” which states that bosses should be 20 percent smarter than their employees.

“I think it’s not so much that you’re lying about what your resume is, it’s that you’re trying to convey an appropriate attitude,” he said.

Recruiters also say they are seeing more older workers who delete the year they graduated from college, along with details about their early job experiences — both of which can date them.

But a job seeker who left the first 10 years off his resume didn’t get far with the Burlington public relations firm Davies Murphy Group. “In my book it automatically disqualifies the candidate because it shows a comfortableness with dishonesty,” said principal Andy Murphy.

People are so focused on getting back into the workforce that they are setting aside not just complete work histories, but their egos, to go after the kind of position they may have had years before.

Unemployed Denver science educator Nancy Hansen removed her master’s degree in ecology and her two Fulbright scholarships from her resume to send a message to a potential employer: “I don’t want you to think that because I have a great resume I’m above doing the work that is here.”

Hansen is still not getting many callbacks from the museums and schools she has been applying to, but at least she’s not hearing the dreaded “overqualified” word anymore. If she is asked about her education or work experience in an interview, she said, she will tell the truth.

That’s what Adrienne Rodney did after sending in a master’s-degree-free resume for an executive assistant position. Convinced that her graduate degree from Boston University was hurting her chances of getting the publishing and public relations jobs she was applying for, she stopped including it.

When she came clean about the omitted degree to her potential boss, Brooke Allen — who runs the website NoShortageofWork.com, about unconventional paths to employment — Allen told Rodney that he had left his MBA from New York University off his resume years before.

Much discussion, and a job offer for Rodney, soon followed.

End of Katie Johnston Chase’s Article

Start of Ed Bagley’s Reaction:

When resume writing clients of mine approach me about “dumbing down” their resume to help them get a job in a down economy, I discourage such foolishness, and here are some reasons why:

1) It is very bad form for anyone who wants to get ahead in this world to apologize for being educated, literate, ambitious or productive.

Just because the world is full of mediocre minds and mental termites (many of whom take up space and do nothing more than enough to keep their job) does not mean you should be sucking up to them at their level of thought power, education, literacy, productivity and accomplishment.

You can temporarily lower your level of employment expectations, but do not lower yourself or your qualifications in the process.

Take a lesser job and salary if you must to survive until the economy turns around, but stand your ground when it comes to your qualifications.

Do not dumb down your resume by taking off your degrees, job titles, productivity and accomplishments.

You can tell me that they will not hire you because they feel you are a threat to their position.

You can tell me that they will not hire you because they are afraid you will leave for a better position when the economy turns around.

You can tell me that they said your are overqualified for the position.

None of these comments from potential interviewers or decision-makers amounts to a hill of beans.

If no one has every told you before, I need to tell you now – when someone says you are overqualified, that is simply the most polite way they have of saying they do not want to hire you.

It could mean they do not want to hire you because you are a threat, or because you may leave at the first opportunity for a better job, or any other reason, including the way you part your hair, the color of your eyes, or the sound of your voice. It flat does not matter.

You simply need to move on to another interview for another opportunity. Think this through for a moment.

If they think you might leave because you are a threat, what makes you think they will not undermine your effort and production if you are hired?

If they think you might leave because you will find a better opportunity, is it not clear then that you will be penalized for trying to better yourself? What kind of a person or boss would hold you back from becoming a better person, or trying to find a better, more productive way to support your family and yourself?

I will tell you what kind of a person would think and feel this way toward you. A loser, that’s who. What person in their right mind wants to work for, or with, a loser? Losers will always drag you down before they would ever think of lifting you up, that is why they are losers.

Winners do not think like losers. Winners do not talk like losers. Winners do not act like losers.

What would a winner’s reaction be if you came to him or her acting like you were educated, literate, ambitious or productive? They would read you resume, interview you and act appropriately – that is, make you a job offer.

Why? You must be kidding to ask such a question.

For openers, when you are educated, literate, ambitious and productive, they may not have to spend a dime to train you to do a job at a much lower level than you are accustomed.

You will likely be a high achiever and performer, saving them time and effort in monitoring your work habits.

They will be able to give you projects and assignments, and they will not micro-manage you in the process; they will be moving on to another challenge to make them and the department – including you – look better than your competitors to the higher ups.

You will likely make your boss look good, increasing his chances of an earlier promotion. And what do you think your boss will do when he is promoted? That’s right, take you to a higher position with him; he would be nuts not to, especially if he knows how valuable you have been to him under his charge.

Should you be offered a better position than the company you are working for can match, you boss will not be all that upset if you leave. Why? Because you may leapfrog over his position, turn around, and bring your boss with you. After all, he was smart enough to hire you.

2) Acting and playing dumb to take a job that pays significantly less than you were making is hardly an intelligent career move unless you want to devalue yourself and what you have to offer, and move backwards at the same time.

When you interview with someone for a lesser position, and you know that person is not even making half or one-third of what you were making in your prior position, do not let the interviewer make you feel like a lesser person by sitting there and listening to that baloney.

Be polite, be patient and then be gone. Life is short. You do not need to work for losers who want to tear you down while trying to build themselves up at your expense.

I fully recognize that in life there is no vacuum for followers, the vacuum is for leaders. Followers do not, and cannot lead if their life depended upon it. When a follower sees a leader, he will follow and become a good team player; he knows his place and will be happy as a follower.

Leaders do not enjoy any such comfort. Leaders are not comfortable unless they are leading. And yes, leaders were once followers before they became leaders; they just did not make a career out of being a follower.

There is nothing wrong with being a follower. As Shakespeare said, “Act well your part, therein all honor lies.”

Smart bosses and smart people in the hiring business know they are always money ahead hiring a smart, educated, literate, productive and ambitious person. People who fear competition are losers and will never get ahead in this world, unless, of course, their daddy owns the company and their daddy would let an idiot run the company.

Most winners in this world got where they are at by lifting themselves up by their bootstraps by the honest sweat of their brow – all they needed to become successful was an opportunity, not a handout.

And, this is important, when they were denied an opportunity, they created their own opportunity. Some people have a job; other people create a job with a business – in other words, they do not have a job, they own a job.

When you have your own business, you are not going to fire yourself or lay yourself off. If you want more income, you raise your prices, and operate only in the market that will pay your prices. Who says you have to serve everyone? You just have to serve someone in a special market segment to be successful in America.

One final comment – have some pride and backbone in who you are, and what you have to offer. Do not allow two-bit interviewers and snot-nosed personnel types to push you around mentally or emotionally, they haven’t lived long enough to earn that right. Let people know real quick that you are a person of substance and, if they cannot handle it, find someone who can.

Life is short. Idiocy is rampant. Success is elusive. You must reach out and grab success by the hand, and do not let loose of it until you bring it to you. You can do it. Anything you can conceive and believe, you can achieve. Create desire, develop belief, and get on with it.

The First Time I Had Witnessed a Miracle

 

(Ed’s Note: This article was written in 1976, 44 years ago, on the occasion of my daughter’s birth, and was first published in The Lacey Leader, the newspaper
I owned and operated for
8 years. As a Christian,
I celebrate the Resurrection of Christ rising from the dead this Easter Sunday so that all who believe might have eternal life. It is a joy for me to recount this miracle with you, recognizing that the birth of life is both a miracle and mystery to be cherished among all of our living experiences.)

Copyright 1976
by Ed Bagley

I have lived on this Earth 31 years, but Saturday night was the first time
I had ever seen a miracle.

It started in the dead of sleep at 5 a.m. For four hours I slept on like a newborn baby. It was nothing unusual for me—
the freight train that cuts Patterson Lake in two could detour through our bedroom, and I would probably not wake up.

Inside Annette—while I cut through zees like rewrite copy—a slow stirring began. Soon it became sharp pains. Finally I woke at 9 a.m. to greet the new day and found out Annette had been up at 5 wondering if her time had come. It had.

We checked into St. Peter Hospital at 11 a.m. and began an even longer wait. Soon it was 1 p.m., then 3 and 5 and 7 and 9 and her labor continued. The baby was not in the right position, and Annette spent a good deal of time figuring out how to push when the contractions came.

It was a struggle we went through together, her frank cries of anguish and my dispassionate encouragement. I could not have become emotionally involved, or it would have been all over for me. I wanted to see everything.

Finally monitors were put on her to play out the frequency of the contractions and the frequency of the baby’s heartbeat. A steady blip, blip, blip played across the face of the machine and, to the right, numbers changed every few seconds, telling the baby’s heartbeat per minute. Eventually medicine was used to help induce the contractions.

After 17½ hours, Annette went to the delivery room and I was right behind her. Inside, as Dr. Krug exhibited a totally calm, professional demeanor, I watched as the baby’s head pushed into the new world.

Dr. Krug noted that the cord had a knot and then, with one final push, Kristin Ann came into the world and nothing could hold back Annette’s elation and tears, and Kristin’s cry for survival.

Kristin was bright and alert to the momentous occasion; she immediately opened her eyes and let us know she was here—it must have been a tremendous struggle for her too.

I sat stunned, not giving in to instant joy. I wanted to note, with the patience and calm of a craftsman, every detail of this glorious moment.

Kristin looked blue and—had it not been for her crying—you might have thought she was not alive. Her eyes, if not her voice, said otherwise. I felt like
I could have reached out and touched the Hand of God.

Later, in the nursery, I was astounded that Kristin looked a healthy pink only minutes after her arrival. Her eyes were still open and her mouth was constantly moving.

When Annette came out of the delivery room and the nurse wheeled her up to the window, I was sure I saw Kristin smile. As if to test this observation against reality, I asked the nurse if she had smiled. I could not believe it.

The nurse replied yes and then, when the nurse, Annette and I once again focused on the wonder before us, Kristin Ann smiled again.

(Ed’s Note: Family is the fundamental core unit of our culture, from the unity of many comes the strength of the family to fulfill its destiny, with each generation experiencing the life cycle, and the joys and challenges of realizing our individual and group potential. The gift of life is only our first gift, it is up to us—as individuals and as a family unit—to love and support each other as we develop our unique gifts as children of God. Regrettably, more than 62 million babies have suffered abortion and been killed in their mother’s womb because of the passage of Roe v. Wade in 1973 by the United States Supreme Court. It obviously never occurred to the majority of the 7 of 9 setting Justices that they would have not been alive on Planet Earth if their mothers had aborted them. And many of us thought that those 7 Supreme Court Justices that ruled in favor of the motion were kind, thoughtful and sensible students of the United States Constitution, a document whose authors never, and I mean never, would have approved the motion. I say this because our great nation ensured us that were endowed by God with the fundamental tenet of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. The majority decision by those
7 misguided Justices have resulted in the killing of 62+ million babies and counting, as more are killed every day in America. It is easy to see why liberal progressives are happy with kicking God out of our schools. These are the same Pro Choice believers who would like to kick God out of our country and kick Christianity out of our nation, then we could become a socialist nation (or Communist or a Dictatorship) without a need for God or religion. Non-believers have some other ideas about this same topic. That’s OK. I believe our universe is big enough to accommodate everyone.)

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: Never be afraid to ask too much when selling offer too little when buying.
(Ed’s Note: How much you get from a sale or how much you have to pay when making a purchase determines whether you make or lose money and how rich you ultimately become.)

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