I have come across many instances in my business career of the widows of successful businessmen complaining bitterly and continuously about the price that their husband received when they sold their old business to its new owners.

Mrs. Backus of Backus Oil, which was bought by Rockefeller, devoted a large part of her remaining life to such complaints, completely unjustifiably I might add, since Rockefeller offered to re-swing the sale at any time. I have come across many other examples of this, including a few where I have bought the business from a widow, or soon to be widow at very high prices, and similar complaints have been made.

My query is, what is the genetic or evolutionary reason for this, and how is the fitness of the family unit maintained by such? Hopefully any current, past, or future wives of mine will not give utterance to similar complaints, which I could assure by falling belly up again as I did in 1997 and as my adversaries have hoped for so vociferously over the past year.

Dr. Michael Cook adds:

The “fitness of the family unit” might be improved by parents who hand on more wealth to their offspring. So those mothers with a keen sense of ownership and amassing property and wealth may enhance the reproductive fitness of their children.

Easan Katir comments:

This brings one to recall buying a business in Washington from a couple, and the negotiations proceeded with civility, each cost justified, and price multiple in the industry ballpark. This proceeded until the afternoon before the closing day, when the wife telephoned, and was apparently having an attack of Tourettes Syndrome, calling me names that would make a rap star blush, The next day the closing occurred and the husband looked a little sheepish. We owned the business for many years, and I did not hear from them again. Genetic reason? well, that would be pure speculation, but one wonders if that is her usual response to stress, or seller’s remorse, or wanting some attention, or just plain orneriness.

Russ Sears mentions:

My wife told me a story of her extended relatives after visiting her parents over Thanksgiving. The patriarchs of all her relatives are or were farmers. Many of the farms continue on through the family, but most of the kids, grandkids and now great and great-great grandkids have moved on. The tale was of one those families.

It seems in the 30’s that one family of two brothers were about to lose a farm. They were $400 dollars in debt and the bank was about to foreclose. They both agreed to pool their efforts, but like many such pools one brother slacked off and the other raised the majority of the money and paid it off.





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