Having Money Ain’t So Bad . . .

For as long as I can remember I have heard or seen the indicators of great wealth. For as long as I can remember I have felt some resentment towards those who have great wealth. I saw them as greedy and uncaring bowing down to the great Satan–money. I believed them to be snobbish and aloof–above most of us and not subject to the same rules.

So I ask: Is it OK for so few to control so much of the wealth in the world? The deciding factor for me is what did they have to do to make it or to acquire it?   If they stole it, cheated people out of their life savings, came into their money through violence and threats then yes there is definitely something wrong with that. But if they earned it by being smart, by taking risks, by paying attention to those who have done well and done it legitimately then good for them.

Bernie Sanders, a Democratic candidate for president, has targeted the wealthy saying there are too few controlling too much money and they should give some of it back. We must be careful that we don’t penalize those who made their fortunes honestly otherwise why be industrious, innovative and creative? Are these not the basic characteristics of capitalism? Is this not part of the free world dream?

Obviously I have no way of knowing how many of you watched 60 minutes on Sunday evening but the program turned my view  on the wealthy around 180 degrees. Do I now favour those who acquire their wealth by means other than by honest business dealings and decisions? No-not at all. Actually it solidified my feelings and thoughts about wealth–especially enormous wealth. A money manager once told me that anyone can make a million dollars IF they are willing to do what it takes to get it. In other words are you prepared to spend 80 hours a week pursuing your fortune? How long are you willing to continue your efforts?  Are you willing to give up your family for a period of time? And so on.

The 60 Minutes program was about a very special group of billionaires–that’s with a ‘B’. Among the folks who are members of this group are names like: Bill and Melinda Gates (Microsoft),Warren Buffett (Berkshire Hathaway), Arthur Blank  (Co-Founder of Home Depot), Bill Ackman (Hedge Fund Manager), Mark Zuckerberg  (Facebook), Elon Musk (PayPal and SpaceX), Richard Branson (Virgin Group–over 400 companies), Tim Cook (CEO of Apple Inc.) Sara Blakely (Founder of Spanx-Intimate Apparel), Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw (Biocon), David Rockefeller (Banker and CEO of Chase Manhattan Bank), Azim Premji (Indian Business Tycoon and Chairman of Wipro Limited-Outsourcer), Hasso Plattner (Co-founder of SAP  AG Software), George Lucas (American Filmaker-Founder of Indiana Jones and Star Wars franchises).

These are a few of the 142 members of a group who have agreed to honour a non-contractual pledge they made to each other to give away at least half of their particular fortune by the time they pass away. So, in the case of Bill and Melinda Gates, who are reputed to have amassed a fortune of 76 billion dollars they are agreeing to give at least 38 billion of it to charities and foundations (their own included) that forwards the causes of the world–education, health care, research for better medicines and vaccines, brain injury, providing medication to those who don’t have access to them, developing alternative energy sources, global warming and new ways of dealing with poverty and hunger. It is hard to judge but that suggests hundreds of billions of dollars that could be earmarked for global programs that could have a positive bearing on the development of many third world countries who are having difficulty securing or creating any kind of contribution to their own well being. They could actually become self sufficient with a bit of support from folks who don’t want anything from them in return.  

If you are interested in the whole list of members please click on the underlined text.

There are, of course, a number of detractors and critics who suggest it it just another tax haven or a way of hiding or protecting their own vast fortunes mostly in their foundations and pet charities. Are we so cynical and so jaded that we have to be critical of those who might want to actually do something good for people who would otherwise NEVER have an opportunity to experience any kind of stability. Do we deny people an opportunity to have the very basics of fresh water and decent food to eat every day? Do we take away any chance for third and second world citizens to have a semblance of a decent life for their children and their families. It has been proven and determined that societies which are even minimally educated tend to be more stable politically, socially and democratically. They also tend to require much less foreign aid to survive.

I have decided to see some of the world’s wealthiest people as those willing to reach out and do what many governments are reluctant to do and that is give up their leverage over people who may not have any choice. Isn’t that an interesting way of helping to level out the playing field so that more could do better. All that without a shot fired in the process–amazing. I guess having money ain’t so bad after all.

Anyways, that’s how I see it. All the best–Jim

Comments are always welcome. Please connect with me through jimcloughley.com  OR  jim.lifechoice@gmail.com

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A Forward Thinking Life . . .

I often wonder how world wide movements get started. Is it that a few folks get together and decide that the world needs to change and so they start talking to others and then those others talk to others? How does momentum begin? How does someone attract the attention of thousands and then tens of thousands? How important does the topic or the change need to be before tens of thousands deem it important enough for it to grow to millions? Does it happen by accident or design?

I remember the days when Star Trek came upon us and new gadgets were talked about. Those wrist communication devices and tiny video screens that seemed so futuristic are now called cell phones.

Some of the best kept secrets out there are examples of developing technologies that need to be in our daily discussions but we seldom hear about them. Our governments still think and plan in terms of ‘the old world’–why is that? Could part of that be about the grip that 1% of the wealthy have on 40% of the wealth and they don’t want to let any of it go?? I don’t know. What I do know is there are ways of solving our most basic and fundamental problems concerning water and air quality and it would cost us billions of dollars less to produce a dramatic increase in the quality of ALL of our lives. Health care for everyone is more than possible and at a drastically reduced cost to us. Lack of money/resources is not the issue as we are told. Lack of political will and leadership is the reason why we are where we are.

Education: There are many young men, not just in North America, but around the world who are not finishing any meaningful level of education. As a result there is a growing cohort who are not able to compete for good jobs but much more important their creativity and innovation–their drive to succeed is all but gone as hope diminishes. The system continues to fail them miserably and yet we do nothing to create a new paradigm for this 21st century. The reason(s) are basic and easily changed and yet the patriarchy will have none of it because it requires out of the box thinking. What is required is an acceptance that the old system of 150 years ago has finally found it’s end. Poorly educated populations tend to be more unstable, less healthy and less democratic. Naturally those poorly educated tend to become wards of the state instead of leaders of industry–Re: Kotler/Diamandis, Abundance)

Energy:  How many people are truly aware of the advances in energy technology. Were we made aware that over 1.5 billion people live without ANY electricity in their lives and another 3.5 billion people live by burning charcoal and wood as their energy source. Our solution is to give them money by providing aid. What we need to be doing is helping them build new resources that are renewable and that they can manage themselves. We could stop paying hundreds of billions of dollars every year and at the same time help those folks  become energy sufficient ( Google Topaz Solar Farm for more information) and less dependent on us. Instead of building a nuclear plant that takes ten years and billions of dollars to build we could be building solar farms that can be built, like Topaz, that took two years to build–9,000,000 panels that produces enough energy for 166,000 homes for billions less. Topaz is a small prototype facility. It works. Imagine the great deserts of the world covered with solar panels. NO pollution, a new industry to create new technicians and permanent jobs and the poor folks all of a sudden have energy to live with. Now previously dependent nations can be educated, productive and could learn how to compete in the global marketplace. The other major break through is now the excess energy created by solar/wind farms can be stored in batteries for future use. Bye Bye fossil fuels–Kotler/Diamandis, Abundance

Health Care:  Imagine a health care system where an X-ray machine is half the size of a thumb drive. You could carry it in your pocket. It costs less than a dollar to create as opposed to a $250,000 per x-ray machine that relies on 18th century technology to produce an x-ray from a box about the size of a dishwasher and is an energy glutton. The new technology is called triboluminescence. The implications for world health  are dramatic. Consider computers that can be connected in series to provide the most up to date diagnosis for a patient who is located anywhere in the world including developing countries who have such limited resources. They would now be part of cutting edge technology and would therefore have top notch doctors ready to help. Diagnosis in seconds for any medical system that requires it would be the norm of the day. This is all possible today. People anywhere would receive the care they deserve and the costs to all of us would be reduced by enormous amounts of money. The Rand Corporation reported recently that tens of thousands of preventable deaths every year are attributed  to incorrect medical errors and 1.5 million deaths occur due to preventable medication errors. These numbers would be drastically reduced to near nothing because of the availability of computers working in concert.

The point is WHY?–why are we not investing–right now–in these technologies? Why are we not hearing about what is possible now? Why are we spending large sums of money on old systems. These examples are just a hint at what is out there. What will it take for us to make our voices heard to our representatives–how big a voice will be necessary and how do we make that voice happen-NOW. Got any ideas let’s chat about them.

Anyways, that how I see it–all the best, Jim

Commentsideas and thought are all welcome. Connect with me at: jimcloughley.com OR jim.lifechoice@gmail.com 

Please pass this on to family and friends–with thanks


Author Jim Cloughley's 
Brand New Blueprint For Learning