Many of us often wonder what it would be like to be like them . . . filthy rich!
But why do we make wealth sound like a dirty word? Why use adjectives like filthy? Can’t you be clean and rich? Good and wealthy? A charitable, well-meaning fat cat? A kindly thoughtful investor/philanthropist like Warren Buffett?
With his admirable lifetime Giving well over $46.1 billion so far, Buffett is likely heading for sainthood as the biggest philanthropist of all time. Without so much as a flinch, he steadfastly carries out his quest to give away more than 99% of his fortune. Much of his giving has gone to the foundation of his friends Bill and Melinda French Gates, which uses it to lessen poverty and enhance healthcare in developing countries, while helping education in the U.S.
Also, Saint Buffett as one day many might call him, has also given billions to the four charities set up by his three children and his late wife.
So, why muddy those billionaire waters when they’ve done so much good! Could it be we’re just jealous? Maybe envious? Probably ignorant?
Look how they’ve washed away so much poverty, provided jobs for so many, bestowed innovations upon us that have lifted many lives to near utopian levels. I’m no lawyer, but I’d sure like to argue their cases to the jury at the pearly gate.
Just imagine what our world would be like without the Internet, without Amazon and Walmart, without electric cars, cloud computing and now (drum roll) AI.
When he retires from life, why shouldn’t Bill Gates have a 66,000-square-foot mansion awaiting his highness in heaven overlooking a pristine lake visible from any one of his six kitchens and 24 bathrooms? Can you imagine anyone of his stature doing number 2 without a stunning lake view?
I can’t close the gates without citing all the good things the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has done thanks to the more than $36 billion they’ve given to it from 1994 through 2018. It still does tremendous good works year after year, while those donations resulted in tax savings of only 11% of the contributions they made over that time. Their charitable giving fights the world’s greatest inequities, makes the poorest among us healthier. Bravo to those billionaires.
Actually last year Forbes reported the world’s billionaires shrank in number and in overall wealth, but fortunately the upper crust among us in America, 735 billionaires strong, bucked that trend. Thank goodness!
The ten richest U.S. billionaires then were worth a combined $1.2 trillion–up from $1.05 trillion a year before, which accounted for a little over 25% of American billionaire wealth. So, it’s concentrated. What’s wrong with that?
Are not billionaires our beacons who inspire us, who make us want to be in their shoes, their illustrious camps, by innovating, inventing, discovering, always reaching loftier goals just like they did?
Now look at Elon Musk who last year became the richest in the world. Maybe that was before he bought Twitter, but still, according to the Forbes 2022 report, he was the biggest gainer in dollar terms then–up $68 billion from a year before, to an estimated fortune of nearly $220 billion. His increased wealth was then fueled by a rise in the price of Tesla’s stock. Will there be a Tesla in heaven? Will Elon land there in his own spaceship?
No wonder I’ve always wanted to do a TV series called Xtra Terresla™ staring a character modeled after Musk building electric cars in the heart of oil and gas country where Texas cowboys want to rope and hog-tie him.
The only two members of this elite group with smaller fortunes than in March 2021 were Messrs. Bezos (Lifetime Giving: $2.1 billion) and Zuckerberg (Lifetime Giving: $3 billion).
Amazon founder and chairman Jeff Bezos’s net worth dropped $6 billion since the year before to a mere $171 billion, amid a dip in the e-commerce giant’s share price. Still, he has given almost half a billion to environmental organizations.
“Poor” Mark Zuckerberg, the cofounder and CEO of the company formerly known as Facebook, saw his fortune fall last year by nearly $30 billion over the previous year, to $67.3 billion, as shares of renamed Meta Platforms had fallen nearly 30%.
Mark and his wife Priscilla Chan, a doctor, have put billions behind scientific and medical research, as well as into education and criminal justice reform. At Harvard they’re working on using AI and machine learning in biology and medicine to advance such goals as curing, preventing, or managing all diseases. The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, their philanthropic and advocacy organization, has given out $3 billion in grants since it was founded in 2015.
Now who knows what will happen with gladiators Zuckerberg and Musk gearing up for the battle of the century. May they both win and share their respective winnings with worthy causes.
Still, I’ll bet there’ll be mansions aplenty awaiting them upstairs or maybe small heavenly one-car garages where they’ll start all over again to make it rain miracles.
So, what do you think? Will there be billionaires in Heaven? Or will they arrive like Buffett, nearly broke, but happy?
Tom Madden is a rainmaker himself, of words, having written countless articles, blogs and books, including his latest, WORDSHINE MAN, when he’s not running his PR firm, TransMedia Group, providing his clients with publicity that feels heaven-sent!