Future Earth

What would you do with $56 billion?

0 Comments 22 June 2011

Bill Gates was in London last week to promote, amongst other things, The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation conference. It is a key focus area for Bill Gates’ own charity, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which aims to improve global health by eradicating common killers such as enteric and diarrhoeal diseases, HIV, AIDS, malaria, pneumonia and tuberculosis.

Bill Gates has an estimated worth of $56 billion. To this day he has given $28 billion to organisations such as The Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which is backed by his own Foundation.

Interesting, isn’t it? Bill Gates’ worth puts him at number two in Forbes’ list of The Richest People in the World 2011 – and yet he has pledged to leave it all to his Foundation before he leaves this mortal coil.

What would you do with all that money?

And I don’t mean in a hedonistic, selfish, paint-the-town-red way. I’m assuming that you’ve got all of that out of your system.  I mean in a constructive, charitable and philanthropic way. It’s the sort of question that would have presented itself to Ethan Rae from The Human Race at some stage in his career. As the UK’s richest man and a prolific philanthropist in his own right (he donated 10% of his group profits to good causes) he would at some point have “done a Bill Gates” and looked to give it all away. I am sure Ethan’s business partner Uma Jakobsdóttir would have known exactly what to do with the money: save the world from global warming, no doubt. It is clearly her passion in The Human Race to do so, although I am not sure the money would have been well spent given last week’s news about our sky rocketing carbon emissions.

I know what I would do with it.

If I was worth as much as Bill Gates is, I would spend every last penny on education. Perhaps it is my age. Perhaps it is the fact that my parents scrimped and scraped to give me the best education possible. Perhaps it is because I have two children going through school at the moment. For me, education is without a doubt the single most important area upon which money should be lavished.

Why? Because everything flows from a good education.

Self-respect.

Self-confidence.

Opportunities.

The ability to improve your lot in life.

Better health.

Better job prospects.

A greater appreciation of the world at large.

It provides individuals with choices, which a lacklustre education can never deliver. A well-educated workforce will generate more wealth for the whole economy, from which everybody benefits. Some would focus their improved intellect on solving global warming, others on eradicating disease in Africa. Of course there are the rare few who would make it in life whatever their circumstances, but a good education provides the rest of us with a fighting chance. And for that reason, education gets every last penny of my new found wealth.

Of course, the irony of a better-educated human race is that if we become more productive and hopefully wealthier, we are likely to stamp a bigger carbon footprint on the planet than if we had stayed uneducated and poor. Well-educated citizens travel abroad more. They work overseas and own second homes. They have bigger cars and larger houses. They buy more stuff. And we all know what this does to the planet.

Is this a reason to refuse to spend the equivalent of Bill Gates’ worth on education? Not at all!

My guess is that the benefits of a better-educated mankind far outweigh the downfalls. Intellect will hopefully keep us ahead of the consumption curveball, and ensure that we solve all the issues that threaten our continued existence on this planet. It has to.

So, my question to everyone out there is what would you do with Bill Gates’ worth?

What would you do with $56,000,000,000?

This post was selected for Everything Home Carnival 13.07.11, hosted by My DIY Home Tips

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Charles Heaton British thriller writer O.C. Heaton, author of The Human Race, is fascinated by the past, present and future of human evolution. (Image credit: Ross Parry Agency) Read More>>

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