"The Business Man and The Fisherman"

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Taylor Larimore
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"The Business Man and The Fisherman"

Post by Taylor Larimore » Sat Oct 06, 2018 11:12 am

Bogleheads:

This forum is mostly about using "The Wisdom of Jack Bogle" for profitable investing. If you also feel there is more to life than simply making money, you will enjoy this article by the Physician Philosopher:

The Business Man and The Fisherman

Best wishes.
Taylor
"Simplicity is the master key to financial success." -- Jack Bogle

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Re: "The Business Man and The Fisherman"

Post by baconavocado » Sat Oct 06, 2018 12:43 pm

Nice article, Taylor. Time really is the true currency of life.

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Re: "The Business Man and The Fisherman"

Post by PhysicianPhilosopher » Sat Oct 06, 2018 2:20 pm

Thanks for sharing, Mr. Larimore! It's a lesson that simply cannot be taught enough. As the pastor who married us loved to say, "you can never hear true things enough!"

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Re: "The Business Man and The Fisherman"

Post by Raybo » Sat Oct 06, 2018 3:18 pm

What about those of us who don’t like fishing?
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Re: "The Business Man and The Fisherman"

Post by Fallible » Sat Oct 06, 2018 6:26 pm

So here we have the businessman proposing increasingly complicated solutions to a problem the fisherman didn't have! It reminds me of the quote from Occam's razor that Jack Bogle used in one of his greatest books, Enough: "When confronted with multiple solutions to a problem, choose the simplest one."

Thanks for posting, Taylor.
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Re: "The Business Man and The Fisherman"

Post by libralibra » Sun Oct 07, 2018 12:38 am

I've never felt this forum was about "simply making money", but rather emphasized responsible spending and saving for emergencies and the future.

If the story linked had said
The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs and some savings for the future.
that would have been better. otw the fisherman will have to work far into old age, or rely on his children for support. If he gets injured before that, his family is in trouble.

btw, this story is reposted here every few months, it seems.

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nisiprius
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Re: "The Business Man and The Fisherman"

Post by nisiprius » Sun Oct 07, 2018 7:40 am

As a nit-picker I have to say that this is almost certainly a fantasy description of a fisherman's life. It relates to the "noble savage" fantasy, and it also plays into something the pointy-haired boss in Dilbert once said: "Reasoning that anything I don't understand must be simple..."

The premise here is that outside of the stressful world of people living in a modern economy, in a relatively primitive or substistence situation, it is possible to support a family by working only a few hours a day and spend the rest of the day in leisure. That is, in a primitive situation, with scaled-down income and expenses, incomes becomes much larger compared to expenses. I don't think it's so.

It's true enough that Henry Ford did encounter a situation somewhat like this with Fordlandia, his grotesquely failed effort to create a reliable source of rubber production on the Amazon deep in Brazil--by building a model community that was just like a small town in Michigan transplanted into the wilderness. It failed for many reasons, one of them being that money doesn't motivate you to show up reliabily and work steadily if you are not part of the "modern" system of working at a specialty, to earn money, to supply the needs you don't personally supply for yourself.

I think the flaw in the story is that societies that depend on the natural bounty of nature find that nature is fickle. There are probably times when the fish are just there and you can catch them with little effort, but they don't last. (To say nothing of the fact that if you take only what you need when fish are bountiful, you are likely to get the short end of a tragedy-of-the-commons situation when other fisherman compete with you and overfish the population.) In other words, even if true the situation in the parable isn't likely to be stable for a lifetime.

From what I've read about "primitive" societies, in reality people invest a great deal of time in learning and skill acquisition, and their lives involve all kinds of worries and interpersonal tensions.

This is not to say that the parable's point about work-life balance is invalid.

My final observation is that even though it is not really all that common, there really are people who have a desperate, fire-in-the-belly need or desire for money itself, not just as a means to provide other things in life. Perhaps the main point of the parable is that you shouldn't take those people as models unless you, yourself, truly are that way. Any decision framed in terms of money needs the background question "why do I need more money?" Often there is a valid and obvious answer, though!
Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness; Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.

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Re: "The Business Man and The Fisherman"

Post by oldcomputerguy » Sun Oct 07, 2018 8:14 am

Great tale. The fisherman had what the business man would never ever have: “enough”.
It’s taken me a lot of years, but I’ve come around to this: If you’re dumb, surround yourself with smart people. And if you’re smart, surround yourself with smart people who disagree with you.

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Re: "The Business Man and The Fisherman"

Post by staythecourse » Sun Oct 07, 2018 8:19 am

Great article.

I think it is a reminder the point of life is to make money to enjoy the things in life you want to do and not just accumulate money as the end goal.

Good luck.
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Re: "The Business Man and The Fisherman"

Post by goodenyou » Sun Oct 07, 2018 10:47 am

The story would not be as poignant if he were a ditch-digger who didn't love to dig ditches. The deferred lifestyle plan is ever prevalent for those who don't get up every morning enjoying what they do. Those waiting for happiness may be sadly disappointed. The comment about having enough for today, BUT saving for the future, was spot on. If you teach a man to fish, he may want to fish for a lifetime.
"Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge" | "The best years you have left are the ones you have right now"

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