The Farmer

The story below is taken from Aristotle Capital Management – The Essence

The Farmer

A man and his wife owned a small farm in Nebraska. The IRS, upon reviewing their business tax returns, claimed the man was not paying proper wages to his employees and they, in turn, were not paying their fair share of taxes. The IRS sent a representative out to interview the farmer.

“I need a list of your employees and how much you pay them,” demanded the agent.

“Well,” replied the farmer, “I employ only a few people, so may I simply tell you?” The agent nodded his head.

“OK. There’s my farmhand who’s been with me for three years. I pay him $450 a week plus free room and board.

There’s the cook/housekeeper. She has been here for 18 months, and I pay her $375 per week plus free room and board.

Then there’s the half-wit. He works about 18-20 hours every day and does about 90% of all the chores around here. His pay varies but he typically makes about $10 per week, pays his own room and board, and I buy him either a few beers or two glasses of whisky every Saturday night. He also sleeps with my wife on occasion – I don’t mind.”

The agent quickly says, “That’s the guy I want to talk to … the half-wit.”

“That would be me.” replied the farmer. “How may I help you?”


The morale of the story is the farmer referred to himself as the “half-wit” of his operation as he does 90% of the work for less than 10% of the pay. The investment lesson is that he owns his own business and is therefore motivated to be the most productive person on his team.

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