Originally Posted by bunion
Imagine if you will that you are Bill Gates. You have a wife and a couple of kids. There are very few places in this world you can vacation and not worry about the safety of those children. Where can you go an not be concerned about a kidnapping? The Yellowstone Club is one place that comes to mind.
Envy is probably the last emotion I feel towards a multi-billionaire like Gates. If anything, my feelings towards the guy (not that they are that strong) tend more towards admiration for some of the things he's done with his money --helping to eradicate tuberculosis worldwide and helping to raise the graduation rate here in this country are two that come to mind -- tinged with a little pity for how little true freedom a guy like him really has and how small his real world has probably become. I mean, who do you trust for honest feedback when you're sitting on a few billion dollars?
The very rich and the very powerful are very rich and very powerful because of choices they have made. They've make their bed, and they have to figure out how to sleep in it. It's not a bed I wish to share. (That sounds pretty gay, but oh well
After a certain point, with hundreds of thousands of people depending on him to make the decisions that allow them to continue to keep their own jobs, how much leeway does Gates really have when he makes a business decision? If he wants to leave it all behind for a week to ski at the Yellowstone Club or to rent a Greek island or do whatever he does to get down, more power to him. I certainly don't envy a person whose only recreational choices require
isolation from others.
As a software developer, I can see how the total-world-domination mindset of Microsoft's Evil Empire has stifled competition. And with its continuing deployment of software architectures that are highly vulnerable to malicious attacks, Microsoft, more than any other entity, has contributed to the instability of the wired world. These are business decisions based on hubris and arrogance.
At the same time, I can much pretty work anywhere I want, for whomever I want, because of the skill set I have thanks to the dominance of the Windows operating system. Bill Gates, in his own peculiar way, has made my life easier, and I certainly don't resent him for that.
As someone who is not wealthy, I have mixed feelings toward wealth. In our country, where some people equate money with righteousness, it's hard to stay neutral on the subject. I can see the good it does. Some of my favorite places on the planet are intact because uber-wealthy individuals wanted to preserve them as personal playgrounds. The best part of the Henry's Fork river through Idaho's Railroad Ranch/Harriman State Park is intact because Averell Harriman bought it and kept people out. Similarly, John D. Rockefeller preserved the corridor that links Grand Teton and Yellowstone.
But how much environmental and economic carnage did Rockefeller and Harriman wreak elsewhere to get the money to buy these places? It's probably a zero-sum game at best.
For what it's worth, in War and Peace
, Tolstoy does a great job of exploring the true nature of power and the paradox of how little true freedom or power that "powerful" men actually have.