Recently we’ve seen some major news stories about the mega rich finding smart ways to spend their hard earned money. Last night on 60 minutes it was reported that Bill and Melinda Gates plan to donate over 90% of their income over the course of their lives (Bill is reported to be worth $54 billion in August 2010 according to Forbes.com http://www.forbes.com/profile/bill-gates) or $48.6 billion!
Mark Zuckerberg (the creator of Facebook) announced on the Oprah show that he has pledged to donate $100 million to the Newark, NJ public school system http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2022407,00.html.
These donations and tales of philanthropy are awe inspiring and set a good example that should be followed by the mega rich. There’s a certain point where these people have more money than they know what do with and it makes sense that eventually they’ll be giving it away.
However, on the flip side there was a highly publicized news story of the dinner paid for by Dez Bryant of the Cowboys (just under $55,000 or more than the U.S. average annual income) http://sports.espn.go.com/dallas/nfl/news/story?id=5626300.
These stories show the positive and negative sides of rich people and what they do with their money. Let’s look at some numbers to put this in more perspective.
The average senior citizen (65+ and retired) makes $11,000 a year, these people will rely on 90 to 100% of social security to pay their bills. Many choose between paying their mortgage and bills and buying medicine for their ailments. The 10 poorest countries in the world according to Aneki.com have an annual income of $200 – $700 per year Zimbabwe is the poorest with a $200 per year.
That dinner bill that Dez Bryant paid for is 4 times the average senior annual income in the US and more than 275 times the average annual income of a Zimbabwe citizen! That’s astounding and absurd at the same time. There’s something severely wrong with this picture and at some time there should be a lesson taught to people that make decisions such as this. Yes, Dez Bryant will make his money, and yes, he should be fine (even though that bill is 17% of his 2010 salary).
What people decide to do with their money is their own business. It’s hard earned and the sole owner of the person that made it. Some make good choices (Gates, Buffet, Zuckerberg etc) and some make terrible choices (Bryant and the Cowboys) but even though there are people making donations such as this, aren’t we still missing something here?
According to Aneki.com the U.S. has 422 billionaires (that’s almost 7 times more than the country in second place, China with 62) yet, the average income for U.S. senior citizens is $11,000 per year. Wouldn’t it make sense to donate maybe some of this money to a cause such as this? How about investing money in bright ideas in the U.S.? Do something about the unemployment rate in the U.S. (9.6% in August 2010) would also be a good alternative. The foreclosure rate in the U.S. is close to eclipsing 1 million homes in 2010, that’s 1 million families!
Now obviously there are many causes that are worthy of these handouts, and at the same time, who’s to say what will happen to people that receive these handouts? Will they learn the error of their ways? Are they worthy of such a bailout if they’ve made terrible choices with their money and it resulted in their foreclosures?
Maybe it’s time for some alternative thinking and some wise decision making. Create a fund for americans with brilliant ideas and fund those projects! Create jobs, allow free utilities for senior citizens that qualify, create a national scholarship fund… the list is endless!
I’m impressed with decisions by these people to make the world a better place, it sets a great example of the kindness and generosity that is possible for every one. Every donation is a gracious and kind gesture, and many people around the world are deserving of such a gesture, just don’t forget your own country while you’re handing out that money.