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Bill Gates - An Opinion On A Man Who Makes $173 Million A Day

I said I'd write an entry on Bill Gates, so here it is.

Really, the point of such an entry is to clear up my opinion about Bill, which has been called unreasonable by some. I should start from the beginning, because he and I have some history.

All that know me know that I am a Mac guy. I have always owned a Mac, never a PC. Currently I own two Macs, three if you count the iBook that doesn't work anymore. I'm not one of the ex-PC folks who turned to Macs just because they realized how cool Macs are, although I take credit for one conversion, and influence in about 3 others. As such a person, I have always taken personal offense to the continued success of Microsoft, have always bought into the (true) conspiracy that Gates stole Windows from the Mac farm one dark night, and have reveled in the decline of Microsoft products and stock prices matched by the blossoming of Mac in the computer world. Bill Gates has represented many things for me over the years--Satan, the Master Thief, the essence of what's wrong with Corporate America.

Perhaps the fact that he ranks as the world's richest man, and has so for years, burns my hide a little. When Warren Buffett announced he was giving all his money to the Gates Foundation, that ground a little into my side: the world's second wealthiest man giving the world's wealthiest man all his money. What sense is there in that? Not that I expected Buffett to give me his money, or do something for the poor with it. In a way, I suppose, he is going to, because the goal of the Gates Foundation seems to be to spread money to the poor. Still...

I've always liked the calculations that people made about Gates' money. Basically, they calculated that the four seconds that it would take for him to reach down and pick up a bill, he would actually be losing money in the deal. It has changed over the years. At it's peak (i.e. the peak of his wealth), he couldn't be bothered to pick up a $600 bill to make it worth his time. His wealth in 1997 represented $300 per second. Nowadays, it's more like $150 a second. I found a great page of calculations based on his wealth, assuming he's worth $24 billion this year.  It's crazy how much money he has; there are endless ways of seeing it.  For example, his net worth is about 800,000 times mine. On the other hand, it's not very satisfying to think about this long; it's actually a little depressing.

Still, one can't hold against him for being filthy rich; given the opportunity, I wouldn't turn down a giant wad of cash myself. And really, a true measurement of a man is how he spends his cash. Warren Buffett didn't do anything particularly good with his money, maybe set up trust funds for the next twenty generations of his family. But Bill has done a lot of good with his money. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced they were giving away $500 million to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, at the recent 16th International AIDS Conference in Toronto. This foundation has really been on the forefront of the AIDS relief movement, something that I appreciate. (Of course, according to the Bill Gates Net Worth page, he makes $173 million a day...sorry, just digressing...)

Perhaps Bill isn't the corporate monster he once was (no, I'm not going to change my mind that he was that way at a time). Perhaps I can take him down a few notches from his current status of Satan. I've got my eye on him, though, my guard's still up.

Further Reading: Bill Gates Biography

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