I keep coming back to the question, "how much is enough?"
Now you may think that's a pretty ironic question coming from the son of one of the richest people in the world. But actually, it might just make me an expert on the subject. You see, my dad is the poster boy for the question. He has all the money anyone could ever want and he doesn't need another house, fancier food, more people around him telling him he's important, more stuff on his shelves or the latest electronic gadget in his pocket. None of it would make him happier than he is already -- doing what he loves.
So how much is enough? What are these CEOs and hedge fund guys spending their money on... or more importantly why? Who needs that much money? Their need to line their pockets and hoard as much as possible speaks to the larger question of personal responsibility; moral bankruptcy and a need to fill a bottomless hole caused by... what?
The American dream is mostly just that... a dream. Which doesn't mean it's not worth believing in or working towards. But this country was built on domination and exploitation -- it's no wonder it's in the fabric of our banks, corporations and government. It really couldn't be any other way. You reap what you sow. You can't start a declaration of independence with the phrase "all men are created equal" written by slaveholders and not expect a schizophrenic start to a republic...
So let's take another comment from Jefferson:
I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions, but laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their ancestors.
And one from Einstein:
You can never solve a problem on the level on which it was created. You must learn to see the world anew.
Jefferson expects our laws and constitutions to change as man becomes more enlightened. Are we there yet?
And Einstein reminds us that for this current crises -- or any problem -- to be solved we have to see the world anew.
It's time for real change -- difficult, messy, confusing, enthralling change.
Let's look into the heart and soul of America... accept that it was built on a shaky foundation and start very carefully dismantling the broken pieces until we have families and communities that are built on real trust... that can support business leaders and politicians that can sit at the table, look us in the eye and say, "we are here because of you, so we will honor your needs and protect what you hold most dear -- and, most importantly -- we will make sure future generations are left with a better world."
So how much is enough? Do you think our system should reward us with being able to hoard and spend to our hearts content (or lack thereof)? Is that what market driven, freedom loving capitalism is all about?
Or is there a larger calling towards shared humanity? People making sure others that may not be cut out for the system are cared for. That there is, in fact, enough for everyone.
Please leave your thoughts about how much you think is enough.
Follow Peter Buffett on Twitter: www.twitter.com/peterbuffett