Sunday, November 9, 2014

My Vast Fortune

My local library had another Andrew Tobias book, his 1997 "My Vast Fortune", which I also checked out and reread.  I have mixed feelings about this book.  When Tobias keeps a light touch I find him an entertaining writer.  But when he gets all earnest and serious I find him less entertaining and sometimes actively annoying.  Much of this book humorously  chronicles Tobias's financial triumphs and misadventures and I generally liked that part.  But a big part of the book is devoted to Tobias's ill-fated crusade for no fault auto insurance which culminated in a 1996 California proposition which lost overwhelmingly.  He goes on at tedious length about the purported benefits of a no fault system and the perfidy of those, Ralph Nader foremost, who opposed it.  Even granting his case it is hard to understand why he thought logic and reason would count for much in a political fight and eventually his outraged sense of betrayal becomes a bit hard to take.

I also was a bit annoyed by Tobias's position that liberal programs like free legal services for the poor are fine ideas but they just need to be administered with a little discretion so as not to inconvenience people like Tobias.  I have no problem believing a case brought against Tobias by a former tenant was baseless but Tobias's proposal that legal services "settle" the case by having Tobias denote money to charity was ridiculous.    

I noticed a curious inconsistency between this book and "The Only Other Investment Guide You'll Ever Need".  In the earlier book Tobias recounted (p. 168-169) his investment in a research and development venture that was bought out by Johnson & Johnson doubling his money but leaving him (and some of the other limited partners) dissatisfied both with their return (they felt under the terms of their investment they should have tripled their money) and with the lawyer they had hired to sue to enforce their contract (who appeared to have lost interest).  But in this book he reports (p. 33) tripling his money in this deal.  So one is left wondering what happened.  Did his lawyer sudden spring to life and obtain a better deal or what?  I suppose it's probably just a mistake (possibly caused by confusion between a profit of double your investment and doubling your investment) though.    

So in summary I found this book too flawed to recommend but I did find some of it entertaining.

No comments:

Post a Comment