Sunday, January 25, 2009

#20 - Read "Enough" by John Bogle

John Bogle attempts to answer the question of what is "enough" in today's society. His argument is that we have traded our values for what is viewed as success today. The first section is a rant on the evils of speculation over long-term investing, and how the current financial services industry takes too much value out of the investor's pockets. This was educational, but pretty boring.

The second half of the book focused more on our increasing lack of 18th century values, exemplified by Benjamin Franklin. There seems to be a lack of focus on self-improvement as it regards to personal values, morality, and a sense of responsibility to society and our fellow citizens. I particularly like his example of the "invisible watcher" that the true leaders operate under. In short, he makes the point that you should live like someone is always watching your personal and professional conduct.

My favorite part is a quote from William Parsons, that describes the good merchant as "an enterprising man willing to run some risks, yet not willing to risk in hazardous enterprises the property of others entrusted to his keeping, careful to indulge no extravagance and to be simple in his manner and unostentatious in his habits, not merely a merchant, but a man, with a mind to improve, a heart to cultivate, and a character to form.

The only thing I disliked about the book was the idea of a multi-millionaire telling others what is "enough" in terms of financial needs. The people he describes as "middle-class" are way above that, in my opinion, and there is something sickening about a man who has NO need to stress or worry about money, telling others that financial success isn't THAT important. While I agree that it's not the only thing, if you haven't know the desperation that comes with not being able to pay bills, then you shouldn't talk like you do. In my not-so-humble opinion.

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