March 27, 2009


Simple. Powerful. Relevant. The opening page to Enough. True Measures of Money, Business, and Life by John C. Bogle (published 2009 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc., NJ) is one of the most elegant page layouts I've seen in a long, long time.

Mr. Bogle is founder and former CEO of the Vanguard Mutual Fund Group and often considered the 'conscience of Wall Street.' In an interview this past year he said "We Americans are one lucky bunch. But let's face the truth. While the Declaration of Independence assures us that 'all men are created equal,' we'd best face the fact that we may be created equal but we are born into a society where inequality of family, of education and, yes, even opportunity begins as soon as we are born."

In Enough, Mr. Bogle writes of the problems he sees in the contemporary world of finance. A world that is "marked by too much cost, and not enough value; too much speculation, and not enough investment; too much complexity, and not enough simplicity. Similarly, our business world is focused too much on counting and salesmanship, and not enough on trust and stewardship; and our society at large is too obsessed with charisma and wealth, and not enough with character and wisdom."

I have noted previously in the blog that it is said in the United States alone, the top 5 percent of the wealthy controls nearly 50 percent of the nation's wealth. Following are Mr. Bogle's insightful introductory paragraphs to his latest book:

"At a party given by a billionaire on Shelter Island, Kurt Vonnegut informs his pal, Joseph Heller, that their host, a hedge fund manager, had made more money in a single day than Heller had earned from his wildly popular novel Catch-22 over its whole history. Heller responds, "Yes, but I have something he will never have...enough."

"Enough. I was stunned by the simple eloquence of that word - stunned for two reasons: first, because I have been given so much in my own life and, second, because Joseph Heller couldn't have been more accurate. For a critical element of our society, including many of the wealthiest and most powerful among us, there seems to be no limit today on what enough entails."

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