How To Get By On $500 Million

Last Sunday night 60 Minutes had a very interesting program. I had missed the original broadcast, but a colleague or mine told me about it and I watched it this morning. The moderator interview Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffet, as well as seven other Billionaires who are a part of their club.

The purpose of this club is to practice philanthrocapitalism. The members of this club must have at least a billion dollars, and be willing to give at least one half of it a way either throughout their life or in their will. It doesn’t make any difference what cause they give the money to, just that they are doing good with their money.

The members include Gates and Buffet, as well as Larry Ellison, Richard Branson, several of the Walton’s (Walmart), and even Carlos Slim. There are about 210 members of this club with a combined wealth of $4.6 trillion.

During the 60 Minutes program a point was made by the wife of Steve Case, founder of AOL and part of the club. These billionaires can do something that governments can’t do due to the fact of the power of their combined wealth when it is focused on doing good in the world.

Warren Buffet has chosen to give away over 90% of his multibillion-dollar wealth. He was the one who convinced Gates to do the same thing. Together these two men have done an incredible job of convincing other entrepreneurs to recognize the continued amassing of wealth makes no sense. Instead give away the wealth as they continue their entrepreneurial endeavors and do good with the money. Case’s wife said that the Gates Foundation has almost eradicated polio from the world. Not bad stuff.

I know that some would say that it is wrong for these individuals to amass so much wealth to begin with, but the fact that they are doing good with it now must not be overlooked. Jeffrey Skoll is using his billions to raise awareness on many social issues. His movie making business produced the movie Contagion that helped congress see the danger of the spread of disease and stopped the cutting of funds for the CDC.

I applaud these billionaires who instead of passing all of their wealth on to their children, thus perpetuating the managerial aristocracy, are using the majority of their wealth to take care of those who can’t take care of themselves.

At the end of the 60 Minutes report Buffet made an interesting statement. When he calls these billionaires to talk to them about joining the club, several say yes, but many say no. He then ended with a comment that his next book will be entitled “How To Get By On $500 million.” I think it would be a very interesting read.

Keep up the good work gang, and make a difference.

And that is my thought for today!

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