A Fun and Easy Lesson: Boris and Ivan

I was told this story by an economist. He said an economist is a CPA without the bubbly personality. For the life of me I cannot recall his name.

Boris and Ivan

Boris and Ivan were goat herders in pre-communist Russia.   They lived on neighboring farms, raised their little herds and sold goat milk.

Goat herding is a hard living. Every day the men would go out to the yards and feed the animals and yell at the goats to produce more milk. They’d kick them and curse them. The goats would give up a little milk each day. Money was always tight.

One day, Ivan got it in his head to pray for a better life for his family. After some time a genie (old Eastern Orthodox term for angel) appeared to Ivan and asked how he could help Ivan. Ivan said, “If my goats would just produce a bit more milk each day I would be a bit wealthier and we would have a better life.”

The genie said that was easy to fix. “Show your goats affection,” the genie told him. “Engage them and speak kindly to them.”

So Ivan did just that. He would pet his goats and talk to them every morning while he fed them.

Before long his goats were producing copious amounts of milk. His income doubled, then tripled. He was able to send his children to school. He was able to buy nice things for his wife. He improved his home and made it more comfortable. His family thrived. Ivan was very grateful.

Boris watched Ivan with great envy. He would laugh at Ivan for talking to his goats like they were children. When his wife suggested he try doing what Ivan was doing to be more successful Boris scolded her. “Who has time,” he bellowed, “to pet dumb animals and blather on to them about how nice they are? I have enough problems just feeding and milking and selling the milk!” Then Boris would go into his yards and berate his goats and yell at them as he’d always done. This went on for two more years. Ivan became wealthier and had a much happier life. Boris barely scratched out a living. Finally, he gave up and he too prayed for help from heaven.

Finally, one day a genie appeared and asked Boris what it was he wanted more than anything. Boris looked across to his neighbor’s yards and back at the genie and said, “Kill Ivan’s goats!”

Are you Boris or Ivan?

Think about this story the next time you hear an ignorant, envious loser (encouraged by low-life politicians) say we want our tax cuts AND we want to keep all our benefits, but be sure to screw the rich at the same time. Rich people will inject far more into the economy, supporting your job and the general quality of life more than any ignorant, envious loser will.

Better yet, with more money sloshing around the private economy, there is a far better chance that you might end up being one of the rich people the envious loser despises.   Wish the honest, rich people well, and then do what they do.

Unless you care more about what ignorant, envious losers think than you do about your own life.

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