Sunday, September 30, 2012

Who Stole the American Dream?

Who Stole the American Dream is a book by Hedrick Smith.  On Face the Nation this morning, Smith stated that the 1%'s income has gone up 600% in the past thirty years, while the middle class is exactly the same.  I don't know if that's true or not.  Certainly it's not true for people in the public sector who get regular raises, but it's probably true for those in the private sector who don't get regular raises, and have actually lost benefits over the years.

But exactly what is the American Dream?  Well, for many of us, it's being able to cruise and liveaboard.  I always thought I'd be doing this on a nice sailboat, but instead Pam and I are doing it on a fixer-upper trawler.  The view from the deck is the same.

I probably should have kept working until I reached 65 to get Medicare and maximum social security.  I saw a way to do it at age 61.   Sure, it cost us a bundle, but what if I don't make it to 65?  I'm going to be dead for a long time.

One of my favorite authors is cruising sailor Herb Payson.  Herb took his family off sailing on an old wooden Sea Witch ketch.  Herb was very frank about their money problems, but somehow they scraped by year after year.  Herb offered his readers this gem;

"Money is not the only thing one has to spend; the other thing is life.  The difference is that you never know how much is in the bank, or what your balance is.  Your life is your inheritance.  As soon as you realize this, you start trying to spend your life wisely."

Once I got to the point in my life when I understood that material things simply don't matter to me, and once I was able to let those go, I was able to be truly happy.  No one can steal my American Dream because it doesn't include things.  My dream is living life on my terms, doing things I enjoy doing, with a person who shares my dream.  It is now our dream.

We're spending our life wisely.  Thanks Herb.

1 comment:

  1. One of my favorite lines: you can make more money, you can't make more time. I have a supportive wife who used to say, "Why do you work?" when there was something I wanted to buy. As we started thinking about retiring (early), she changed her tune to, "How long to you want to work?" Now that we've been retired for 6 1/2 years, she enjoys these "fun summer jobs." If there's something big I want to buy, she asks, "Do you want to go back to work?" It's good to have a partner who knows to ask the right questions. ;-)