As many of you probably know, Holly and I like to watch documentaries.  And that’s because we’re freakin’ nerds.  When you are living without cable television, you tend to watch whatever you can find.  Sue me.

Two Very Different Streets

Anyway, a few nights ago we watched a documentary called Park Avenue. The movie explored the economic differences between two entirely different Park Avenues- the one that billionaires call home on Park Avenue in Manhattan and the other in one of the poorest neighborhoods in the South Bronx.  The documentary talked about the growing gap between incomes the rich and poor and particularly that of the top 1% we hear so much about.  And it was shocking.  While I’m not necessarily a “redistribute the wealth” type of dude, the issue is worse than most people have ever imagined.

The film also takes a look at how the ultra-wealthy use politics and policy to accrue even more wealth for themselves.  By donating large sums of money to political campaigns, the ultra-rich are able to sway policy decisions in favor of their all consuming greedy self-interests.  They push for extremely low taxes and complete deregulation to improve their position at the cost of society.  The filmmakers call this donation process a form of “legalized bribery,” and it really is.

We’re all Greedy

I’m not here to debate tax policy and trickle down economics.  However, the movie really made me think about my own life.  After all, I love money as much as the next guy.  I like to earn it.  I like to have it.  And most of all, I love to save it.  I squirrel that shit away like a fat kid hiding Twinkies under his bed.

Heck, we write about money every day, so clearly we are greedy as well.  Still, I’d like to think that there is a point at which I would be happy with what I had. And it wouldn’t be billions of dollars.

To me, money is a tool.  Although I enjoy collecting it, the reason it is hard to pry a dime from my fingers isn’t because I love money itself. Instead, I crave the stability that our savings has provided for my family.  If you think about it, money in itself really isn’t worth that much.  Instead, it’s the flexibility and freedom that comes with it that is so attractive to so many.

It Might Be Time to Retire When……

While I understand why people save,  I just cannot comprehend having the overwhelming drive to turn 1 billion into 5 billion. Or 10 billion into 25 billion. It seems that the ultra-rich must also be ultra-paranoid if they are truly afraid they are going to run out at that point.  Although I’m not sure what it would take for us to retire, I know that I wouldn’t mindlessly pursue more wealth once I knew that we had enough.  Furthermore, I wouldn’t be actively seeking to manipulate public policy to accumulate an even bigger chunk of the pie.

How much money would it take for you to retire? Would you constantly strive to increase your fortune upon becoming rich, or would you choose to retire to your favorite beach instead?  Fire away in the comments below!