MPE (Moon’s Philosophy of Economics)

Norman Maclean, author of A River Runs Through It, understood something unusual and significant about his brother, Paul.

“Paul was too young to swing an ax or pull a saw all day, and besides he had decided this early he had two major purposes in life: to fish and not to work, at least to not allow work to interfere with fishing.” 78

Moon and Paul aren’t dissimilar. As the unbearable pain of Mack’s death (Moon's dad) pressed inward, his memory and lessons pressed outward. This combination defined Moon from an early age becoming the genesis of what I call Moon’s philosophy of economics, MPE. Naming it, at least helped me learn to cope with its extremes; barely. MPE isn’t bad, simply different, very different. Put in its simplest form, Moon views money as a means to an end. Money = time to fish or purchase whatever you might need in order to fish. The evil world exists to take your money in order to keep you from fishing. Therefore, both money and time are resources to be carefully managed so you can subdue the earth and fish as long as you please. You can either put money and time to work for you, or both like the second law of thermodynamics, work against you. In order to manage money and time you must be willing to sacrifice for the prize, fish. This requires physical stamina and iron will. Convenience stores and fast-food establishments are viewed with measured suspicion because they exist to waste your time and lift your money.

“All them kinda’ places try to do is get your money and waste your time.”

Over the years, Moon has driven more miles to and from fishing destinations than any man alive. On these trips, he only stopped for the least amount of time and for absolute necessities, like fuel and depending on which bodily function, sometimes the bathroom.

Once on a fishing trip together, referring to a Coca-Cola with measured ire Moon asked, “Shane, why do you drink those dang thangs? All they do is make you need to pee?” As if the fish couldn’t wait a couple more seconds for me to pee!

The value of any particular job was determined by how much time it could buy you to fish. With the impulse of a stock trader, Moon soon realized that jobs in and around Ackerman produced very little return on your time investment. Assembly lines and factory jobs in Flint and Chicago were better options because they offered a heftier return. Come hell or high water, Moon stuck to his philosophy with the fervor of a Marxist.

“The stuff you have to have becomes the stuff that weighs you down and if you let it, it will eventually steal all your freedom.”

Freedom is interpreted as ‘fishing where you want as long as you want’. So, he did whatever work was necessary for as long as necessary in order to fish more than necessary. The proportional relationships between jobs, money and time were all means to one end, fishing.

He also believed in depravation. Like the ravens who fed Elijah, he thought if you waited long enough food would somehow magically appear out of thin air. And most of the time he was right.

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