Saturday, October 22, 2011

What is Enough?

I'm going to take a break today from The Experiment and talk about a great new website I discovered. It's called Occupy The Board Room, and it allows people to send "Pen Pal" letters to some of the 1% richest people in our nation.

I hope you'll check out the site, and write your own heartfelt letter to one of these wealthy individuals.

I wrote a letter to James Johnson, a board member of Goldman Sachs. (I wonder if he might be related to Jamie Johnson (of the Johnson & Johnson family), creator of the compelling documentary "The One Percent", which aired on HBO in 2006?)

Here's the letter I sent him. I hope he writes back!
Mr. Johnson: 
My name is David Lynch. I am a solo-preneur with my own graphic design business.
Up until a few years ago, I didn't mind working 60, 70, 80 hours a week, because I was building something for myself. 
In my mid 40s, I was able to buy my first home. I started building a SEP account for my retirement. I was close to meeting my financial goals. 
Then, the housing market tanked, and 75% of my diverse clientele either went bankrupt or cut back dramatically, leaving me with 1/4 of the workload I once had. 
I decided to act in the most financially responsible way I could. I agreed to a short sale of my home, but my bank wouldn't forgive the deficiency, so I went bankrupt to protect myself from that debt. Though I have simplified my life to the bare essentials, I still struggle to find enough work to meet basic expenses. 
I'm not complaining - I'm simply laying out the state of my life and how it's changed in the last few years. 
I'm learning to find satisfaction in simple things, like a warm, sunny day when I can go outside and listen to the birds, or a tight embrace from my daughter. I'm learning not to focus so much on the material things I may or may not have, but rather to find contentment in the relationships I have, and be satisfied that I  have access to enough food, clothing and shelter to live simply, in relative comfort. 
On occasion, I think about someone of your stature and wonder if you ever feel that sense of satisfaction? 
Is there ever a moment when you lean back in your executive chair, or in your garden chair and say to yourself, "Ahh! I've finally got enough. I am thoroughly satisfied with all I have!"? 
Or once an acquisition is completed, do you experience an anticlimactic sensation that leaves you hungry for the next merger, the next financial triumph? 
John Muir once said of billionaire railroad magnate E.R. Harriman, "I have all the money I want, and he hasn't." 
Do you think you'll ever reach a point when you have all the money you want - a time you can relax and enjoy the fruit of your labors? 
If not, and you continue on the quest for more riches, what goal do you hope to attain, besides increasing your net worth? How will you know when you reach that goal? 
You might well say to me, "Wait a minute, Mr. Lynch, do you have all the money you want?" 
And I would have to truthfully answer, "No." 
I want to be able to send my daughter to college, to provide decent health care for my family, to build a nest egg that affords a modest retirement. I do not currently have sufficient funds to accomplish these things. Those are my goals, and once I reach them, I will be able to say, "I've got enough. 
I wonder: if a few of the most wealthy people in our country were capable of saying "I've got enough", might there be enough for Americans like myself to meet our modest financial goals? 
And if that doesn't happen, aren't you at all concerned about the vast number of Americans who are beginning to stand up and say "I've had enough!" and have begun to work collectively to change the unfair distribution of wealth as it currently stands? 
I hope that you can see outside your personal realm and consider that the question "What is enough?" applies not only to your own personal estate and family, but also to the needs of the entire nation. 
We are all in this together. What you do affects the rest of us, and what we do also has the potential to affect you. 
I hope you consider helping create a nation where we all have enough. The rest of us are on that path. Our current call to action is "We are the 99%." However, I look forward to the day we can say, "We are the 100%." 
Enough said.

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