- Business and Employment
Bill Gates - A Great Philanthropist
Bill Gates as an adult at the height of his powers
A benevolent billionaire - we need more of them
What a difference there is between people! Last night I watched Bill Gates, the billionaire entrepreneur, the man who made Microsoft a household word, being questioned by members of a 900 strong audience. All manner of questions were asked. All pertained, of course, to how Bill Gates’ multitude of companies and organizations are investing and spending their money. Gates, as we know, is one of the world great philanthropists. At his direction, not just millions but billions are distributed to others around the world.
Why are you doing what you are doing?
One question which showed me the sort of man Gates is was. “Why are you doing what you are doing?” The reference being why is he determined to give around 95% of his great wealth away. His answer: “Well, I could build a pyramid. Or I could have three hundred people fanning me all day. But, frankly, once you have all the things you feel you need for a good life, what can you do with the surplus?”
The Geek. Our billionaire as a child
He is truly trying to help the world
All the while Bill Gates was doing this, people watching the television show were texting in questions which were displayed on the bottom of the screen. I recall one texted remark that came in straight after this. ‘Bill didn’t decide to build Titanic Two or start a new political party.’ This text obviously referring to a well know Australian multi-millionaire who is doing just that. In other words, Gates was truly trying to help the world, not built up his own personal esteem and power.
He is not without influence
Bill Gates’ personal power is tremendous, of course. No one can have that sort of wealth, and be as well known as he is, without achieving great influence. This was shown straight away by his simply arriving in Australia and getting an interview with this country’s – ostensibly - most important person, our Prime Minister, Julia Gillard. It seemed he talked the PM into allocating some forty million dollars to a particular cause just by his suggesting it. But he apparently was mainly trying to convince the Australian Government that we should not defer an increase of promised foreign aid to the world’s poorer nations.
Bill Gates and Paul Allen in the early 1980s
He'd candid and has a quick mind
What impressed me about Bill Gates was his candor and quick mind. He did not prevaricate or try to dodge any question. He handled all with skill. One or two were very difficult questions to answer, and he could have been accused of brushing over them or not answering them fully. But in the main – and there were an awful lot of questions which just kept coming over a period of an hour – he did answer and answer well.
Remeber the old cathode-ray tube VDUs?
It isn't easy to separate the good from the bad
Not everyone loved him, of course. It’s impossible to please everyone. There were a few pointed questions about his investments. Could these clash with his philanthropic work? A text message came in which clarified that for me. The message read something like this: ‘If investors had to check out every bit of the good and the bad in companies activities, and invest only in those that were totally good, there would be no investments.’ Gates made it clear that his people didn’t invest in the Tobacco or in the Armaments Industries. Also, he defended with alacrity his reasons for investing in an industry often accused of nefarious practices, the Pharmaceutical Industry. Their products were saving millions of children’s lives. He was quite adamant about this. All said, it seems his companies practices for good work far outweigh the bad.
Deck top computers have come a long way
He IS making a difference. Maybe there's a Happiness Message in there
When I turned off my television set at the end of the program I was convinced that Bill Gates is a good guy who genuinely wants to make, and IS making – that’s the important thing – a happier place in which to live for a great many people. He’s not doing it for the money or the fame. He is doing it because of something so many who have made it to the top do: give something back. But what sets Bill Gates apart from the majority is that he is giving nearly all of it back and seems to be enjoying his life to a great degree as he does so. Maybe there’s a ‘Happiness’ message for us in there.
I 'take my hat off to Bill Gates. He is a great man
There is a old saying, ‘I take my hat off to….’ Well, I don’t generally wear a hat, but the sentiment is there for me. I am very, very impressed with Bill Gates. Moreover, after watching that program, I expect many other people are, too. Let us hope that Bill goes on to have a long and healthy life and that he is able to continue his good work for many years yet. For to me, he truly is one of this century’s great philanthropists.
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