but... Everyone knows the old saying, right?

It was Ben Franklin commenting on our Constitution in a letter to Jean-Baptiste Leroy in 1789. "Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes."

At the signing of the Declaration of Independence, he is quoted as having replied to a comment by John Hancock that they must all hang together: "Yes, we must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately." Ben Franklin was a pretty amazing character. He also documented a common sense decision making technique.

Decisional Balance Sheet
weighing pros and cons

Decisional Balance Sheet

... my Way is, to divide half a Sheet of Paper by a Line into two Columns, writing over the one Pro, and over the other Con. Then during three or four Days Consideration I put down under the different Heads short Hints of the different Motives that at different Times occur to me for or against the Measure. When I have thus got them all together in one View, I endeavour to estimate their respective Weights; and where I find two, one on each side, that seem equal, I strike them both out: If I find a Reason pro equal to some two Reasons con, I strike out the three. If I judge some two Reasons con equal to some three Reasons pro, I strike out the five; and thus proceeding I find at length where the Ballance lies; and if after a Day or two of farther Consideration nothing new that is of Importance occurs on either side, I come to a Determination accordingly.

Ben Franklin on a one hundred dollar bill
German-language Newspaper
In 1732, Ben Franklin published the first German-language newspaper in America – Die Philadelphische Zeitung – although it failed after only one year!
In 1730 or 1731, Franklin was initiated into the local Masonic lodge. He became a Grand Master in 1734, indicating his rapid rise to prominence in Pennsylvania. The same year, he edited and published the first Masonic book in the Americas, a reprint of James Anderson's Constitutions of the Free-Masons. He was the Secretary of St. John's Lodge in Philadelphia from 1735 to 1738. Franklin remained a Freemason for the rest of his life.
The Way to Wealth
Some phrases from the almanac quoted in The Way to Wealth include:
  • "There are no gains, without pains"
  • "One today is worth two tomorrows"
  • "Early to bed, and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise"

It's so easy to get side-tracked off into Franklin's other ideas, writings or sayings. One thing is for sure, it's safe to say that the guy had just as many bad ideas as good ones, but he never stopped coming up with new ideas. Two hundred and thirty years later, those words about "Death & Taxes" still ring true as they are repeated by thousands, especially at income tax filing time.