"Why should so few be able to acquire all the gold?" "Because they know how."


bag of money

I was browsing through chapter three of The Richest Man in Babylon this morning and came upon this conversation between the king of Babylon and his Royal Chancellor.

“After many years of great prosperity brought to our people because your majesty built the great irrigation canals and the mighty temples of the Gods, now that these works are completed the people seem unable to support themselves.

“The laborers are without employment. The merchants have few customers. The farmers are unable to sell their produce. The people have not enough gold to buy food.”

“But where has all the gold gone that we spent for these great improvements?” demanded the king.

“It has found its way, I fear,” responded the Chancellor, “into the possession of a very few rich men of our city. It filtered through the fingers of most of our people as quickly as the goat’s milk goes through the strainer. Now that stream of gold has ceased to flow, most of our people have nothing to show for their earnings.”

The king was thoughtful for some time. Then he asked, “Why should so few men be able to acquire all the gold?”

“Because they know how,” replied the Chancellor.

If this were a political blog we could have a field day with the policy implications of the dialog between Chancellor and king.

If this were an agricultural blog we could discuss the actual speed at which goat’s milk passes through a strainer.

Luckily, it’s neither.

“Because they know how.” keeps ringing in my head. How did they “know how”, I’m asking myself.

I don’t have any answers today – only a couple of questions:

1. Where did you get your financial education (or lack thereof)?

2. If you have children in school, are they receiving financial instruction at school? Is the instruction worthwhile?

3. How are you educating your children about money? On Friday, Marie told us about her policy of “privilege with responsibility”. I’m wondering about other methods for raising money smart kids.

Next month I’ll be giving budgeting presentations to a few classes of high schoolers. I’m hoping your answers to my questions make those presentations more effective. 🙂