If I Had a Billion Dollars – by Roger Stark

Recently, Bill Gates, CEO of Microsoft and Warren Buffett, chairman of Berkshire, Hathaway and one of the most successful investors in the world, started making some interesting phone calls.  Reportedly, they go something like this … “Hi, Warren Buffett calling (or Bill Gates, as the case may be).  I know you have a lot of money,  Bill Gates (or Warren Buffett, as the case may be) . I think you should give half of it away.”

I find this fascinating.  Even in an economy that’s struggling, with a federal government that has overspent and many state budgets in real crisis, individual net worth is strong.  I read somewhere that U.S. personal net worth is about equivalent to global GDP.  In other words, someone has money to solve problems.

And perhaps they can be motivated to follow Winston Churchill’s advice: “You earn a living by what you get.  You make a life by what you give.”

I don’t have a billion dollars, but I have given some thought to what I would do if I did.  First of all, my response to Bill and Warren would be an immediate  “Yes!”  And here’s what I’d be looking for in a recipient for my philanthropy:

  • I’d want to see a dramatic short-term impact on people’s lives.
  • I’d want it to help them have the wherewithal to be self-supporting human beings.
  • I’d want the solution to be a force multiplier – accelerating the ability of humans and institutions to do better.

How would you respond to Warren and Bill if they were to call you?

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