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Enough Versus All
Looking back over some of the greatest problems of the last few decades — including the ongoing attempts to monopolize business, the income disparity between the highest and the lowest, and the acquisition and abuse of billionaires’ power in the world, I always see one glaring, dangerous, reason for these problems. Whether it is an individual or a corporation or q government, many have lost any understanding, if they ever had it, of the difference between having enough and having it all.
Being an entrepreneur is an amazing thing, but far too often the desire for having it all leads these entrepreneurs down dark paths where they end up abusing individuals, businesses, and the government. Extreme wealth brings extreme power and that power is often wielded directly and specifically in the acquisition of yet more wealth at the exclusion of everything else. It can lead to fraud, tax evasion, and even attempts to overthrow the government.
More than enough
The fact is, these people already have more money than a can ever invest￼￼ or spend. No matter how much they donate it. No matter how much they build new companies. No matter how much they lobby government representatives They can never make use of all the money, all the value, that they have aggregated. And yet they still clamor for more money hour after hour, day after day, year after year.
So what is enough? Why can’t they see that they already have enough? While enough is different for everyone, some people might think that supporting themselves and their family, living in a comfortable and safe home, and sending their children to school, might be enough. This was certainly true of the men returning from World War II who turned the G.I. Bill and a growing economy into a supposedly idealistic world. For many it was. Yes, there were certainly issues and everyone was not happy, even those who have the benefits listed above. Even with that though, many believed that at least financially, they had enough.
What is success?
Today though, we have perverted any traditional meaning of the words enough and success. There is no longer any middle ground for success. You are either the most successful or you are no one. Any sense of middle-grade success — much like the middle class itself — has been destroyed. We have lost the ability to understand when we have enough and when we are successful enough. Yes, we can still want more and we can strive towards it, but it seems pathological to continue to accumulate wealth when you already have more than their children, their children’s children, or even their children’s children’s children will ever be able to make use of.
What is even worse is that their continuous battle to accumulate more wealth often reduces their sense of happiness rather than increases it. The goal of acquisition becomes more important than any other goal in their life. They don’t appreciate what they have achieved.
The Effects on Society
I think it also Reduces the sense of happiness for everyone around them. Or they can afford to spend any amount to go to a concert, how is anyone else supposed to be able to find a ticket at a reasonable price? How can the average person purchase a house when many others are willing to spend far above market value to own the house? How can anyone live the American values of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness when the absurdly Rich make it more and more difficult every day? They make everyone else even poorer through their money and the power it wields.
Money cannot buy happiness but it can buy the accouterments of a good life that can assist in our happiness￼. There should be some logical end, though, to the amount of money someone should seek out. Once you have three or four cars, how many more do you need? Once you have three or four homes, how many do you really need – – or use at all? When you reach this level, acquisition becomes a goal in itself, not happiness.
For the betterment of you and your families, think deeply about what you consider success. How will you recognize when you arrive at success? Will success always run ahead of you just out of reach? Will your search for success lead you to never find it? For me, the most important part of this is knowing the difference between enough and all. I certainly don’t have everything that I might want in life, but I certainly have enough, especially when compared with others who are less fortunate. We live a fine life without a large mansion, a private jet, and a vacation house in Jackson Hole.
Would these things be nice? In some ways, certainly. In other ways, they would cause more complications than I would want to take on. Even if I had the money, the management, and maintenance of multiple cars, houses, or whatever, would decrease my happiness. I might even have to hire someone to take care of all that for me and then worry about managing them. In many ways, there is a sweet spot of enough. One which brings the majority of desired markets of success to you without expanding on the associated problems for you and society as a whole.
So the next time you find yourself envious of Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, or Elon Musk, look at all the associated problems that come with all their wealth. It’s OK to realize that having enough success is fine especially when you don’t have to deal with all the downsides.
Be happy and learn the difference between enough and all.