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 2007 by Ed Bagley

Waking Ned Devine – 4 Stars (Excellent)

Sooner or later one has to come clean. When pigeonholed about what is my favorite comedy, I said some time ago that “Meet the Fockers” was the best comedy I had seen in a long time.

What I did not say was what is the best comedy I have ever seen. So let me say it here and now: as of Thursday, March 11, 2007 the best comedy I have ever seen is “Waking Ned Devine” and it is not even a close call.

It would be easy to throw around a bunch of adjectives like outstanding, fantastic, remarkable, extraordinary, superb or phenomenal but why bother when you can say this: there are not another five writer/directors in America that are better than Kirk Jones and his creation.

In crafting Waking Ned Devine Kirk Jones has done what dozens of his peers have not done on their best day, and that is both write and direct a film worthy of being called the best. Let me not be shy or just throw out words to fill up space.

Let me name some writer/directors whose effort in a dual role bred more failure than success: They include Kimberly Peirce (terrible rating) for Boys Don’t Cry, Vanessa Parise (average rating) for Kiss the Bride, Peter Weir (average rating) for Master and Commander: the Far Side of the World, Nancy Myers (average rating) for Something’s Gotta Give, Thomas Bezucha (average rating) for The Family Stone, Michael McGowan (average rating) for Saint Ralph, Jared Hess (terrible rating) for Napoleon Dynamite, Robert Rodriguez (terrible rating) for Once Upon a Time in Mexico, and Paul Thomas Anderson (terrible rating) for Punch-Drunk Love.

The worst of these efforts was Paul Thomas Anderson’s Punch-Drunk Love.

There is no question that all of these wannabe writer/directors probably worked their butt off trying to win an Academy Award for their effort, and I do not mean to discredit their time and effort, just their result. Hopefully, they will learn from experience and get better.

Kirk Jones is almost unique because this was his first effort at being a writer/director. He was in very dangerous territory but talent, judgment and sensibility can overcome a lot of mistakes. I would put Kirk Jones in the same incredible class of writer/directors as Tim McCanlies in Secondhand Lions. Both Jones and McCanlies are great writers-not-yet-discovered who become artists painting a masterpiece when directing. Waking Ned Devine is set in Ireland but filmed on the Isle of Man, an island in the Irish Sea that is a British crown possession with home rule.

The Narrator for the film (Paul Vaughan) sets the stage for the film with this great observation: “Saturday evening, and the world is much the same as at any other point in the history of the world. The planets and stars orbit and spin, and do everything that is expected of them. On Earth, as the sun sets, millions prepare for an event that is much less predictable.

“In 63 countries around the world, dozens of lottery machines spin hundreds of lottery balls. It takes seconds for the winning numbers to be selected . . .seconds for the losers to realize that they have lost. But for the winners, it is an event that will undoubtedly change their lives forever . . . lucky sods!”

In the tiny Irish village of Tullymore two best friends—Jackie O’Shea (Ian Bannen) and Michael O’Sullivan (David Kelly)—discover that someone among them has won the Irish lottery, and they go to great lengths to find the winner.

After concocting an elaborate chicken-dinner ploy that fails to rat out the winner, they plough through a horrific rainstorm to call on the only person to not attend the dinner.

When they find the elderly Ned Devine with the winning ticket is in his hand he is dead. Imagine Ned Devine at his moment of triumph. He survived endless storms upon the sea as a fisherman but ends up dying of shock in his lazy boy upon discovering his good fortune. Jackie O’Shea, being the good Irishman he is, does not want the money to go to waste and convinces his reluctant friend Michael O’Sullivan to go along with his plan. You simply must see what happens when these two pikers get about the business of dealing with Ned Devine’s body.

Jackie’s wife Annie (Fionnula Flanagan) is beside herself when she learns of Jackie’s plan, upbraiding Jackie for his dishonesty and fearing that both of them will end up in jail. Jackie, being the creative Irishman he is, lets Annie know that he has had a dream that the deceased Ned would want to share his winnings with him.

When Jackie and Michael were skinny-dipping in the sea, they bump into the claims inspector as he is coming to interview Ned Devine to settle the claim ticket. Jackie takes the claims inspector on a wild goose chase while trying to find “Ned’s” house, and Michael is left to jump on a moped naked and make a mad dash back to the house before the inspector arrives.

Earlier, when Jackie’s wife Annie learns he has put Michael up for the part of Ned Devine, she reminds him that “he’s never told a lie in his life.” “Well,” replies Jackie, “he’s making up for it now.”

Michael, nervous as a cat, does pull it off, and the inspector lets Michael know that his payout will be almost $6.9 million Irish pounds. If you can only see one other comedy bit ever, see Michael O’Sullivan, buck naked, riding that moped like a man possessed. It is beyond comedy, it will be legend for those in the know. Only when Jackie discovers that the winning ticket is worth $6.9 million Irish pounds does he realize how out of the control the situation has become, and that the entire village will have to become involved to pull off a deception of this magnitude.

Every villager to a person agrees with the plan except for Lizzy Quinn (Eileen Dromey), a cantankerous, wheelchair-bound, b-class whiner who holds out for a hefty 10% take with a threat that she will spill the beans.

When pushed Lizzy (I hope my memory serves me right in thinking this is the right character) makes good on her promise, and wheels herself up the road to the pay phone by the cliff. Fortunately for the villagers, Lizzy dies when the lottery claim inspector’s car spins out of control and forces an oncoming van to crash into the phone booth, sending Lizzy over the cliff before she can report the fraud.

The claims inspector shows up in the middle of the funeral with the $6.9 million pound check for Ned Devine, sending all of the attending villagers into a state of emotional and mental panic.

Jackie O’Shea who is delivering the eulogy slides into some instant Irish resourcefulness with this brilliant piece of oratory: “Michael O’Sullivan was my great friend. But I don’t ever remembering telling him that. The words that are spoken at a funeral are spoken too late for the man who is dead. What a wonderful thing it would be to visit your own funeral. To sit at the front and hear what was said, maybe say a few things yourself.

“Michael and I grew old together. But at times, when we laughed, we grew young. If he was here now, if he could hear what I say, I’d congratulate him on being a great man, and thank him for being a friend.”

Waking Ned Devine is both one of the best comedies ever made and a classic study in relationships, not just among friends and families but among a small community as well. Kirk Jones has given this story heart, risk, honor, integrity, unity, romance, love, tolerance, chicanery and Irish whiskey all rolled into a masterpiece of storytelling.

Waking Ned Devine is the funniest film I have ever seen. Because Ned Devine is a comedy and also a story about relationships among common people, this, as much as anything, gives it such solid goodness despite the deception. I mean really, who wants to give $6.9 million Irish pounds back to the government when it really belongs to the people?

There are other subplots in Waking Ned Devine too good to detail here.

We learn of the romance between Maggie O’Toole (Susan Lynch) and Pig Finn (James Nesbitt), a pig farmer Maggie would like to marry if she did not have to smell him. We learn that Maggie has a son, and Pig Finn wonders if he is the father. We learn that the real father is none other than Ned Devine, and that the son is rightfully due the entire $6.9 million pounds as the legal heir. Maggie, thankfully, realizes that a rising tide lifts all ships to a better place.

Waking Ned Devine ends with Jackie O’Shea, Michael O’Sullivan, Maggie’s boy and Pig Finn all raising a toast to Ned Devine while standing on a cliff overlooking the sea. A better comedy I may not see in my lifetime.

Sadly, recognition for Kirk Jones, the cast, outstanding casting by John and Ros Hubbard, and cinematography by Henry Braham all go without their proper due. To prove there is some small measure of justice in the world, the budget for Waking Ned Devine was estimated at $3 million and this independent film has generated at least $43 million worldwide and the video is still raking in more bucks.

There are 6.9 million reasons to see Waking Ned Devine, but here is the best one: Kirk Jones. I raise a second toast of Jameson’s to Kirk Jones’ effort. I may only be 18% Irish, but it is the best 18% of me. I am a better person for having seen Waking Ned Devine.

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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.