So what’s the real reason most people are broke in the world? It’s a controversial subject. Right now I’m reading “50 Success Classics” which has great quotes from people throughout history.
Most of us operate under what I call “pain-avoidance delusion” – it’s one of the 25 cognitive biases, and nothing brings out delusion more than money.
I was talking to somebody who was broke the other day and she said, “It’s not my fault.” And there’s a little bit of truth to that, some of the problems in the world come from government and taxes. I was listening to the President’s State of the Union address recently and he has some noble goals.
I’m not completely knocking the place of government but I want to put it into perspective by reading you this quote by Benjamin Franklin.
Many years ago in the 1700’s someone came to him and said “The taxes are too high, I’m not making any money.”
Benjamin Franklin replied: “The taxes are indeed very heavy, and, if those laid on by the government were the only ones we had to pay, we might more easily discharge them; but we have many others, and much more grievous to some of us. We are taxed twice as much by our idleness, three times as much by our pride, and four times as much by our folly; and from these taxes the commissioners cannot ease or deliver us, by allowing an abatement.”
Franklin was a man who not only got over the pain avoiding delusion, but also mastered the mis-weighting bias. Most of us mis-prioritize those things that are actually holding us back in life.
The main thing holding back the world is not government taxes. I’m reading Gregory Mankiw’s book “Principles of Economics” and taxes definitely matter, they cause shifts in supply and demand.
But you know what will have the biggest bang for the buck? Optimized brains in the billions of people across the world.
What stops us from having an optimized brain?
Franklin says we are taxed twice by our idleness. Our own laziness holds us back.
He says we’re taxed three times as much by our pride.
We’re taxed more by the latent and unused human potential in our own brain than we are by any government organization.
Lastly, Franklin says we’re taxed four times for our folly. What’s our folly? Making too many mistakes because we’re too lazy or proud to listen and realize that the answers aren’t always within.
I have a huge library of books because I use them to stop myself from making mistakes. Exercise for the brain is just as important as exercise for the body. My grandma is 96 and she’s very sharp. Part of that is good luck and good genes, but she’s also been stimulating her brain with chess and backgammon for years.
These are the things that you must work on first. In “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” author Stephen Covey says to focus on the things in your control. Some of you might become politicians and change government for the better but those of us who aren’t in the political realm can’t really control these things.
So don’t be lazy. Don’t be proud. Avoid making mistakes. These are the things that will bring you poverty, but if you invert them, they will bring you immense wealth.
What’s an example of an area where you have been too idle, too proud, or had too much folly?