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The Almighty Buck

Rise of the Slacker Millionaires 148

There was an article titled THE NEW GILDED AGE: Rise of the Slacker Millionaires in yesterday's Washington Post that caught my eye. It's about Hal McCabe, a 28-year-old AOL employee who quit as soon as his stock options vested and made him a millionaire. He's retired now, but spending his take so fast that friends say he may need to un-retire in a few years. And in an unrelated story (submitted by dozens of readers over the weekend), we finally learn what Bill Gates plans to do with his money. Both stories make interesting reading. I wonder how many Slashdot readers share Hal and Bill's money "problem," and how they're handling it. Hmmm...
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Rise of the Slacker Millionaires

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  • People like McCabe, they need some sort of self-help group that can get them organised and dealing with unearned riches and arranging their investments and getting them on the route do doing something philantropic. McCabe sounds lucky, he's getting good advice (even if he choosed not to listen to it), but there's gotta be lots more like him, but even less able to figure out what the hell they are doing with themselves.

    Hey McCabe, if you're reading this, do it up ! Get something together and do yourself and folks like you a favor !

  • I'm not sure how much I agree. When you've got
    that much money you've got to give it to *someone*
    when you die. Either it's going to be to your heirs,
    or it's going to be to society (or a little to both).
    What Bill is doing by donating it all to society
    is making sure his name gets in all the history
    books for years to come.

  • by demon ( 1039 )
    Remember, you don't die from AIDS, you die from a related illness, probably something a healthy body wouldn't even notice.

    Yeah, and I guess a lot of them are extremely rare. You can die from the common cold, once AIDS actually goes full-blown. Not something you'd normally think of as being fatal.
  • No, Billy boy doesn't pimp it right away - he stuffs it away for a rainy day when his public image needs that little extra boost, then whips it out and jumps around screaming "See! See! I'm a good guy too! Look at all the money I'm donating to all these good causes!"

    That's the cheesiest to me - using your donations as weaponry in a war of words. Spare me, please. If he wants to make donations for the sake of making donations, that's fine. I don't want to see articles about it when his image isn't doing so well tho.
  • His Billness has been talking about doing this for years - basically he's decided not to leave anything for his kids to inherit...
  • .. while we may debate what Microsoft's big positive contribution to the computer industry was, pushing aside the original user-friendly computer was not one of them. Many people still do use 1 button macintoshes (often with Linux) and are very happy using them, thankyouverymuch.

    Having said that, I do agree that if I were in Gates' shoes I would be pretty annoyed at the suggestion that such a massive donation was just a cheap ploy to distract attention from a court case.


  • You're wrong about Gates being so humble about it. I remember a story earlier this year about Microsoft bragging about charitable giving and how it ended up making the Ford Foundation and afew other charities looking bad. It turned out that much of the valuation of the giving of Microsoft was in their software, whereas the giving by the others was more cash-related. I think Microsoft and Gates has no shame at all.
  • AIDS has a lot of media impact, so curing AIDS would also have a lot of impact. So it is a logical choice for good PR points.

  • Actually, you are right. The absolute theoretical point of Capitalism is to kill your competitor. In fact, the absolute highest point a company can achieve in the true spirit of capitalism is a monopoly. But the catch 22 situation is that once you have a monopoly, competition is no more, and capitalism dies. Capitalism sometimes grows up and kills it's father, a financial Oedipal Complex if you will.

    Now the question is- do you allow a monopoly to grow and swallow competition? Obviously not... I won't go into economics, you all know the benefits of capitalism and competition.

    The problem that I have (and most slashdotters) isn't the fact that they are a monopoly, per se. It's how they got there and what they are doing with it. They got there by stealing, bullying, lying, and betraying. Everyone know that. And while that might be capitalism, it's extreme capitalism. I like to think of it this way- if you put the mentality of the Microsoft business model and the argument that it's all just capitalism on top of, say, football, you'd have a team that carried knives and guns on to the field, stabbed their opponents while they were down, loaded the ball with explosives, etc. You might say that the goal of competition in this sense is to win at any cost- that's what you are there for. But there have to be rules- no one really wants to play a game for their life. If there are no rules it becomes pure bedlam. If a team played like that, they would not have much of a fan base for very long.

    And what is Microsoft doing with the monopoly? When was the last time that you really were impressed with a new version of some software from them? I mean, from a serious look, not at frills like Active Desktop or the damn paper clip thing in word. Basically every new version of Microsoft product I have seen has been bigger, requires more processing power to use, and has been less usable and slower than ever. Take Office for example... half of the stuff that I could do in word '95 I have no earthly idea how to manage in Word '97.

    As for Mr. Gates and his donations- whether or not he does it for the right or wrong reasons shouldn't matter- if someone in need gets some needs met as a result, more power to him. But I do have to ask- if you screw an entire industry for the sake of an extra dollar, do you really deserve to be treated like a "philanthropist" if you give some of it away? And how much and for how long do you donate before you aren't giving it away for the sake of making yourself look good. Like I said, it shouldn't matter, but to me, it does. I have watched him for years and this is just another maneuver.
  • heh, I usually read through all the coments before posting, I haven't even had my morning pot of coffee yet, so I'm gonna take the bet that no one brought this up yet.

    Remember back in Europe, a long time ago, the Do-Nothing kings? They just threw parties in the palace and slept off hangovers, and they mayors of the palace did all the work. That's what it sounds like to me.

    /Orion, Cliche` subjects: A thing of the past.

  • The day 60% of PCs on this planet run Linux you will get flamed on Slashdot-next-generation for not running some GNU Hurd derived system (of course they will have GPLed super portable microkernel by then). But I am optimistic. This bad commercial Linux will be still GPL.

    For me free programs have 2 advantages:
    they are SIMPLE and IMPROVABLE. Important point is also the ease of personal intercation with the author, they are not anonymous.
  • In a lot of ways, I feel like Hal's right-wing counterpart: roughly the same age, people say I'm smarter than I think I am (if I can do it, how difficult can it be?), rather like the idea of "retiring" as young as possible... only here in Ann Arbor, there aren't a whole lot of stock option millionaires (starting to change, watch for BlueGill's IPO in a year or two), if my employer gets bought out it'll just mean that we can get a *full* T1 feed and replace the antiquated Sparc 10's (equiv. of 486's), and I know how to manage my money. And I have bitter hatred for the parasites who wrote the taxes that confiscate half of whatever annual pay raises I get (same as the rest of y'all in the 28% bracket that kicks in at $25K/year). Liberal Democrats keep people poor. Poor/stupid and rich/guilty are their symbiotic constituencies. (Including Bill Gates, 'til he got mugged by reality...)

    I have two alternative plans, the relavent one being to retire by 40, having paid off the mortgage on my small but comfortable condo and live off investment income. I'll hack code for fun, do the occassional consulting job to slow my cash burn rate, write (I'm actually good at writing, want to get back to that)... and play Alpha Centauri and what not too much along the way, no doubt. If my investments go better than expected (or I manage to acquire AOL-calibre stock options), I might try angel investing.

    I absolutely would not wonder what I did to deserve success. Everyone gets chances, few can execute them. Screw up, learn, try again, and don't hate the folks who are already there. Do fight the looters trying to hold you down, and never try to arbitrate what people "deserve".
  • What's strange is that he could give away $10 to every single person on the face of the planet and still have a large wad of cash.

    What's even more interesting is that when ol' Bill starts cashing in his stock, and flooding the market there-with, the value of M$ stock will inherently fall (supply and demand).
  • part of me kinda doesn't want to see the fortune split up like that. I always wondered who the first trillionaire would be. But charity is a good thing.

    Still, how would you like to grow up and know that your dad was worth over 100 billion and he gave you "only" 10 million, less than 1%?
  • if I had that kind of money, I'd try to open up apartment complexes with high speed internet connections like the one I live in.

    Bandwidth for the masses.
  • Ted Turner gave $1 billion when he was worth about $3 billion. Gates gave away $5 billion when he was worth around $85 billion. I'd know which guy I'd prefer seeing on the news magazines...

    then again, once Gates gives away the rest of his fortune, it's another story

  • 100 billion, not 10 billion (nt)
  • If any of Gates' 100 billion dollars goes to curing a disease that you are (or will be) afflicted with, you people owe him an apology for all the criticism.
    All of this talk about him being greedy, etc goes out the window with him donating virtually his entire fortune to help improve society.
    Shame on you.
  • every part of me sure does want to see the fortune split up.. it's just crazy to have such an amount of money at the whim of a single person or organization. OTOH, this loooks more like a PR move than anything else; BG is young enough that his posturing now about where he wants his $$ to go when he dies doesn't mean he can't change his mind 12 times over. I'd be more willing to consider him a "nice guy" if he and his company stopped being the asshole bullies of the software industry.
  • According to my office mate many years ago Bill said the same thing in an interview.
  • I'm only 15, so if Gates pulls off this world with out AIDS thing I think it'd be really kewl... not that it would matter for me, but....
    This is a bit short-sighted. Even if you never know someone who dies of AIDS (or is HIV positive), AIDS will affect you; it already has. AIDS has changed the way people think about sex, and millions of dollars have been spent caring for those with the disease and researching a cure.

    I assume you'll pay taxes in a few years (if you haven't started already). Well, part of your taxes goes (or will go) to AIDS research.

  • "Steel from the rich and give to the poor",
    more correctly put: "Make loads money by destroying other comapnies and then give it away".

    The day Microsoft makes something that doesn't suck,
  • You may think he's pulling out the stops because he needs his image polished now. I am attributing him with foresight. I think that either something unpleasant will happen soon (Y2K?) or he's planning something unpleasant (expiring software licensed?), and seeks to insulate himself in advance.
  • He's going to do it gradually. So he will have it all given away by the time he's dead.

    It's very easy to be generous in such a way.

    He's still evil.
  • "That would help a lot more people than any charity."

  • Do you understand how interest on money works?
    He'll have plenty in 5 years...

    My question is why the media keep saying 90-100
    billion dollars.... isn't most of his worth just
    on paper?

    Isn't it strange that Gates can give away 90-99%
    of his fortune, and still be worth a billion
    dollars? Whoa....

    Why are there so many Unix-using Star Trek fans?
    When was the last time Picard said, "Computer, bring
  • > Funny thing is, Gates doesn't make a huge deal of it.

    It seems to be the Windows advocates that are making the biggest deal over it. Someone whipped his horse to get the news over to comp.os.linux.advocacy faster. Is it Linux advocacy news? No, but it's a break for Windows advocates who are in increasingly desparate need to justify their loyal support for Microsoft's business practices.

  • With Linux around, will he still have 100Bills to give away if he waits five more years?

  • Gee, last time I checked, AIDS was the only one with 100% fatality rate and a 9-17 year transmission period. Personally, I'd rather have any other STD. Most of them are treatable (if you catch them in time) or even curable.
  • So you think he'll be seen like Andrew Carnegie, then? You know, the guy who hired Pinkertons to beat and kill strikers, but then gave his money to the library system?
  • According to the news, Gates will put $100B into this foundation, and it will support medical research (and treatment?).

    An endowment of that size would throw off $5B a year in income, using my university's 5% rule. What can you do with $5B? You could endow a new Yale University _every year_.

    So much money chasing a narrow research area will seriously distort the "market". Alternatively, it will give the foundation enormous control over how biomedical research develops.

    Control is Microsoft's middle name, I guess.

    How this $100B is managed will mean a lot more to the world than any software that will come out of Redmond.
  • That was a horrible article. Whats up with saying the only reason he said this was becuase he was in trouble with the court. He already has a charity and its one of the biggest chairties in the world! He's been doing this before this stupid trial. Some people need to get their heads out of their butts and realize that bill gates isn't evil just because hes successfull. Mabey we should start shunning slashdot, all the linux people read it... its getting really popular, almost taking out the other news sites. Mabey we should take slashdot to court, they are killing the competition. They make it too hard for small tech writers to start up.
    Wake up and realize if it wasn't for bill gates you would all be using 1 button macintoshes.
  • AOL:Good evening, AOL Technical Support. How may I help you today ??

    Me: Yes, I having some trouble conn -

    AOL: ... Excuse me just one moment please, I'm getting some interefernece on this line. Are you by chance talking on a cordless phone?

    Me: No ....

    AOL:Oh, nevermind, I think it was just a lear jet passing over our building here ...

    Me: Lear jet ??!! I didn't know Dulles flew in Lear's ....

    Oh no, they don't. They're flying in my one of my fellow workers ...

    Me: Huh ??

  • Actually, Kodak's in the digital photography game, too. They make some pretty sweet cameras.

  • by Uart ( 29577 )
    AIDS is a syndrome, not a disease, if you have HIV, you won't neccessarily die. If you have AIDS, it is more serious, but i've SPOKEN to people living with the syndrome, and they seem to be doing fine. So, it is very dangerous, and its practically a plague, but not everyone dies.
  • >>Diseases are nature's way of thinning out the weak. >In 30-50 years, we can make a population completely dependant upon us for survival. All because of a little humanitarian effort.

    Already happens at home... the welfare population that grow up on welfare and become new welfare recipients.
  • So, Bill has decided to spend all this money to eradicate HIV and Malaria. All very noble, but will throwing money at the problem actually do any good? Bill's announcement was especially well timed, as it conincided a new ESR essay on originality http://wn.net/daily/esr-original.html.

    ESR argues that you can't buy innovation. To paraphrase:

    "People who innovate essentially do it because they are clever and capable of original thought,
    not because they have huge amounts of money thrown
    at them. Developing these ideas can swallow up huge amounts of money, but it won't get you that original grain of originality."

    Microsoft, as Slashdotters know all too well, likes to take the innovation shortcut, which is to wait for someone else to do all the hard work, and then buy up the results.

    So how will the Bill/Microsoft approach work when attacking these great scientific challanges?
    Throwing money at HIV, or any problem about which we have insufficent knowledge, will not make it go away. You have to wait for some scientists to do the basic research, and come up with a breakthrough, which in all probability will be in a totally different field from the one where the cash got ploughed in.

    So, the Bill Foundation might be a nice publicity stunt, but wonder who much real difference it will make? Of course, they can always "Embrace and extend" the real breakthrough, if it comes...
  • yeah, call him a fool - that helps your argument. Don't get petty about it. He had a point. The name slashdot isn't totally unique to Unix systems. It's "News for Nerds" not "News for the Linux Community". Now, granted, most of us do use Linux more than anything else, but don't you think there's room here for everyone?

  • But in the words of Eric Raymond, neither has Linus. Don't get me wrong - I love Linux to pieces, but it's not exactly an original thought. The entire system has been a Unix workalike since day one. It's a good workalike. It's even better than a lot of the originals, but it's still nothing new.

    So MS has "embraced and extended" - so have we. Half of the free software out there was built on the source code of other programs. It's not a Bad Thing(tm).

  • Well that's the big argument that people make right now. They say, "Well it'll still be GPL, so there's no way Suse or RedHat or Microsoft can ruin it for us". But that's not the point.

    Just because it's GPL doesn't mean you'll want to use it. Just like everything else that works its way from the underground to the mainstream, Linux will lose it appeal to the people who originally made it popular and when that happens (and believe me, it will) those undergrounders will move on to the next big thing.

    You hit the nail on the head when you said Hurd, because that's exactly what I was thinking about when I wrote what you responded to. When Linux becomes passe the same people who bash NT for crashing will begin bashing Linux for it's prehistoric architechture. It doesn't matter if the OS works fine for what it does (look at NT), people will still use propaganda to make it seem worthless and even evil.

    The cycle is so simple, and yet people never see it.

  • I don't recall where I saw it, but Bill gives a relatively small percent of his income...smaller than you'd think.

  • I agree, throwing money at a problem doesn't make it go away. Look at East Germany or Sicliy, how many billions in aid has been poured in there. Self help is the only help!
  • Gee, last time I checked, AIDS was the only one with 100% fatality rate and a 9-17 year transmission period

    Don't you mean Incubation period? And IIRC it only takes a couple of months for the early symptoms of HIV to be detected, then 2-3 years for AIDS to develop.

    Anyone confirm/deny? or do I need a second cup of coffee? Mmmm coffee...
  • Sorry we can't be perfect like that...
    So, if you had billions of dollars, would you just give away that much, for the sake of that "warm, fuzzy feeling you get inside"? Think of all the other things they could be spending that money on - expanding the corporation, hiring more programmers to fix all the problems in Windows, and the list goes on.

    So, what do you do? Do you just give away the money all at once? Or do you wait until it will benfit you and others at the same time, then give it away? What's so wrong about that?
  • The time from first infection until the time you develop and AIDS related illness seems to be around 7-12 years, depending on a number of factors. It is very difficult to prove exactly when you were infected.

    Once you develop an AIDS related illness, the length of time you have left depends on:
    - what the illness was (the first could kill you)
    - how soon you started treatment from the time of first infection
    - your general health.

    A number of people have lived 5 - 10 years or more after having developed an AIDS related illness, are still seem pretty healthy. Others go very quickly.

    As a side note, I read some time ago that there appear to be some people who don't get infected due to them lacking some protein or enzyme (something like 1 in 100 white males, also some African women).

    Remember, you don't die from AIDS, you die from a related illness, probably something a healthy body wouldn't even notice.
  • Whoops, forgot....

    The time from first infection to first detection depends on the tests, but HIV can be detected quite quickly (within 6 weeks). If nothing shows in 3 months (2 tests), your safe, assuming no other exposure.
  • Here in Seattle (and over on the Eastside, aka Redmond) we've got a fair number of these Slacker millionaires. Some live the high life, but most are the people who ride the bus and take their yacht out when the weather's nice.

    Some glom on to fame, by buying their way in to parties with acquisitions of theaters and so on, but most seem to be pretty level headed people. Of course, they don't get as much press as the Nouveau Riche Slackers who flaunt their wealth all the time.

    Kind of like those E*Trade commercials, really.
  • Face it, even Al Gore gives more of a percentage of his total income and wealth than Bill G. On a proportional level, Bill G is just starting to behave in an almost human fashion, after years of being a piker.

    Think about it, he has $100 billion. His value rose by more than $40 billion last year. If he gave away $1 billion, it would only be 2.5% of his increased wealth. When it gets into the multi-billions per year, I'll give him credit for philanthropy.

  • I know how lucky I am. Unlike most Americans, I didn't live my entire life in the same sheltered American town. I'm a third generation US citizen, and was born a military brat. I've lived in foreign countries (okay, well, the Netherlands are still first world), and I've visited plenty of places that aren't anything like the typical concept of America (both in America, and abroad)

    And personally, yes, I've actually thought of killing myself quite a few times. And 'first world nation' only applies to some of the people living here. Go to any slum area of your largest nearby city, and ask people living there how well they enjoy it.

    And as to Gates, I could care less about him. If you noticed, most of my complaints are against the Catholic groups out there that started doing this long before Gates wanted to join in.

    I'm a strong supporter of euthenasia (if they don't want to live, don't make 'em), and have had a living will since I was 16, which lists the loss of any two limbs as reason enough to not prolong my life. I believe in the death penalty, and I believe that we should do more to clear out the Lifers that are presently in prison.
  • Damned people, thinking they're helping out. Oh, we're going to be good little catholics, and go over there, and vaccinate all of these people, and convert them to catholicism, so they'll be saved when they die.

    They're killing them! Nature works on a system of checks and balances. If it weren't for people being the ignorant bastards that they are, the entire population of these third world countries might not be starving. (hmm....what happens when you halve the death rate in an area with an average of 5-7 children per family? Population boom. And can the local agriculture support it? Hell no.) And it's even better when it's the Catholics doing it, as they're opposed to contraceptives, also.

    Personally, I think Star Trek had one thing right -- the prime directive. Don't mess with other civilizations. They'll evolve on their own. (well, assuming greedy bastards don't go in there to exploit their resources, like in Brazil, or end up daming up the rivers, and crap like that.)
  • No way. Just give me a kayak, beer, camping equipment, and some warm weather. You'd never see me again.
  • But his kids are used to living in luxury. Therefore, they require a lot of money in order to continue living a happy life. I'm sure only having 10 mil would feel like poverty to them.
  • Well, I can't speak for anyone else here, but I sure don't intend to quit using Linux 'because it's getting popular'. As more people use Linux it will have more support, more enterprise applications, and more games.

    My beef with Windows is simple. I want something stable, and I want something free. Windows is neither. Gnu is both. That's it. I don't like rebooting every few hours, I don't like draconian end user agreements, and I don't like every word document or spreadsheet I make generating a secret ID hash in it. It's none of MS's damned business which program I used to make it, what my ethernet card # is, or what OS I have.

    I will choose Free Software-high quality, privacy, and no binding agreements (except, of course, that I do not infringe upon the freedoms of others).
  • > Or what else did you plan to do with the money, build a $500mil GNU Palace at MIT?

    Actually, Gates is doing just that. check out the Stata Center [mit.edu] (which may house the FSF)

  • If you have two million bucks, invest wisely (i.e. safe Mutual Funds), and live BENEATH YOUR MEANS (which for a millionaire means about $50,000 a year), you'll be more than fine. But McCabe will be flat broke in a few years at the rate he's going at. Fool.
  • What the hell are you talking about?
  • I thought Bill was leaving NOTHING to his kids. In that case, if I were his kid, I'd be disgruntled. However, $10 million in the bank is plenty of money to never have to work again. Even if I were a greedy kid, a couple hundred million in the bank is an effing lot of money.
  • Does anyone else recognize the similarity between curing AIDS and Windows? Why does he want to spend so much money to fix something that can be prevented? Aside from those who got it via blood transfusions etc. (I imagine a small number these days) AIDS proliferates because of stupidity in the form of unsafe sex and drug abuse yada yada yada... So It is just like building a workaround in your code rather than fixing the cause. I mean, this is probobly the meat and bones on W2K afterall.

    So why not spend valuable research time and money on something that kills so many more people a year (no... not Windows) like Cancer. You don't have to be stupid to get it, you just get it.

    What do you think?
  • A story over at Blue's News:

    http://www.bluesnews.com/cgi-bin/blammo.pl?displ ay=19990802&topic=everything#Gates to Charities: Not So Fast!_Monday

    suggests that the "unrelated story" may not be entirely factual. It seems to be true in intent perhaps, but then Windows is intended to be bug free too...

  • "and how much have Mr. Raymond and Mr. Stallman given to charity? In my league? I think not. I am a GENUINE Nice Guy(tm) and I give people what they want for free: money, not software or a source code or anything silly like that!!! Hey, I don't CARE how much cooler Linus Torvalds' hair is than mine, did HE give away 90 trillion billion dollars to ANYONE? . . . ."

    Seriously though, good for him. I'm glad he's spending it responsibly and for some sort of noble goal, regardless of secondary motives. Hey, no AIDS WOULD be a nice thing . . . unless of course it just mutates into MS-AIDS(tm) . . . ;-)
  • so if I beat up your grandmother, steal her money saying it was mine in the first place, and spend it all to buy you cookies, will you still refuse to hate me ;-)

    Yeah, terrible analogy, Bill was never THAT bad, but . . . .
  • . . . hey, don't worry. There's still PLENTY of other STDs that are more contagious and just as deadly . . . AIDS is just the one that the media likes right now :-)
  • "I agree that it's a good thing that he is donating to charity, but a company that does something damaging and then makes a big show of donating to charity (or, as Kodak is doing here, of reminding people about past donations) just doesn't sit right with me, somehow."

    Funny thing is, Gates doesn't make a huge deal of it. Did you know a few months ago he gave over $5 billion dollars away? Or even more recently, $100 million to AIDS research? Probably not. It only appeared in a few news outlets, because Gates and MS didn't make a big deal of it. On the other hand, when Ted Turner gave away $1 billion (over 10 years), he was on the cover of every news magazine in the country. That's not to diminish Turner's donation, of course, just to say that Gates' donations are not exactly all about bragging.

  • Yea, but I bet you wouldn't trade your 75+ year lifespan if we hadn't cured all of the diseases they we already have. Don't forget how damn lucky you are to live in a first world nation.

    Did you actually think about what you were saying, or was this just your opportunity to slag Gates?

    I know Gates is no saint in the business world, but I applaud him for his charitable contributions.
  • It is important to remember that how nice Gates is with his money has nothing to do with how honorable his company is. Most of the 19th century robber barons gave tons of money away when they got older. (Carnegie Hall, anyone?) This doesn't mean that they didn't use horrendous business practices to get the money in the first place. Rockefeller's business practices were the ones that inspired anti-trust laws in the first place. He was ruthless at driving out competitors. And later, he was well known for spending a ton of money on charity.

    This does not surprise me at all because it fits in with Gates' personality. Everything I've read about he says that he is not a greedy guy. He is a power-hungry guy. Those are two very different things. I suspect that he'd give a lot more money right now if that didn't mean selling more shares (and thus giving up control (power)) to get the cash.

  • Holy cow! I went to high school with Hal. I even helped out at Hal Aide at Gregs house all those years ago, and he used to call my BBS. I have to say it though - people were willing to pull together for him then, and it couldn't have happened to a nicer guy. Way to go, Hal. I hope all is really well.

    (waiting for my options to vest)

  • Did you read the article? He's still gonna leave $10 million for each of them! The VAST, VAST majority of people never even come close to having that much money throughout their entire lives. I think his kids will be okay . . .
  • I'd like to see Bill donate all of his cash to FSF/GNU. Then we'd have a kernel that ROCKED, and the stigma of M$ sucking would be gone...
  • Why doesn't he donate his money to create an operating system that doesn't crash every 10 minutes.
  • Even if ESR is right here, the contributions should still help. Fields with more funding will draw more researchers, and clearly the probablility of making the breakthrough increases with the number of minds working on the problem. Many brilliant people at my school are discouraged from, say, theoretical physics because there are not very many jobs available. So while throwing additional money at a particular project may not be very useful, funding the creation of additional jobs and laboratories does help.
  • Yes, but it's a far cry better than setting up a 'family dynasty' like the Kennedys.

    Old Joe Kennedy made his fortune smuggling booze into this country during prohibiion, and through other mafia-related acts of thuggery. When he made the mistake of siding with the Nazis and Fascists during WWII, his image was blackened to such a degree that he couldn't run for office. So he set his sons up for a life in politics.

    If Bill Gates' fortune is given away to charity, at least the next generation won't have to deal with another Kennedy-esque 'dynasty.'
  • Why should anybody except ESR's "choir" (a certain zealous sub-section of the Free Software community) care what he says?

    It's dangerous for anybody with almost all their eggs invested in a project like Linux to complain about a lack of innovation. Linux is one of the least innovative software projects out there. It's basically a cloneing operation.

    Granted, there are tons of innovative projects going on in the Open Source community, just like there are in many areas of computer science, and -um- all of life. Usually, though, the innovation is happening somewhere far away from the blowhards.

    Oh, and it's shocking to hear somebody seriously say we shouldn't spend more money on research to cure A.I.D.S. Are you implying that "throwing money at the problem" is all the scientists intend to do with the funding? The AIDS research foundations don't just blow money like the decadent creep profiled in the first half of the article...
  • I'm only 15, so if Gates pulls off this world with out AIDS thing I think it'd be really kewl...
    not that it would matter for me, but....

    One thing I don't understand is Gate's connection with aids...
    Why does he care about AIDS, and not a more sympethetic cause like blind 3 year olds?
  • Yah. I hope he gets his act together a tad; a lot of the money he has left should be invested with varying degrees of risk. After all, he's fairly young and can be expected to live many, many more years -- during which prices will increase and all. In addition, while I don't recall the article mention a family, if he ever started one -- a 4-year degree at a top-tier private school, barring scholarships, will be very expensive. Contingencies such as accidents or natural disasters could wreak havoc. So he's not in a long-term safe position.

    While immediately giving it away to his friends and favorable causes may please the McGovern-ish streak within him, it's probably not the best thing to do. If he handles his cards right, 'tho, he may end up with the ability to either give away or indulge himself far more.
  • In the case of HIV, it doesn't necessarily *all* have to go to new research. It'd probably be rather helpful to work on distribution of HIV testing equipment and related education throughout Africa, given that the majority of HIV cases on that continent arise through heterosexual contact.

    Education, contraceptives, a far-higher availability of screening, and judicial sanction against those who knowingly risk spreading the disease could all help reduce the infection rate, and the first three at the very least require resources. Some mass behaviorial modifications are necessary, however, unless people relish the possibility of the majority of the population on an entire continent being infected with HIV, or one really believes that a research breakthrough towards a safe, inexpensive vaccine will occur so rapidly that deployment of it could occur very soon. If Gates were to encourage spending in that direction, it would probably help.
  • ...and deliberately making sure that if his daughter wants to be *really* wealthy just like her pop, she'll have to be either pretty cunning with what she *does* inherit, or found another company. She'll be well-off, but not disgustingly so.

    It's not that unusual for the self-made wealthy to prevent inheritance of most of their fortune with the intent of not raising a wealthy slacker who never has to work or even think.
  • It's very deliberate. He doesn't want a kid who's never going to have to think, work or earn money.

    Another point occurred to me: he's denying the government a vast fortune in estate taxes if he gives it away before he dies. From what I've read, the rates go up to at least 50%. It wouldn't surprise me if he'd prefer not to provide such a huge subsidy to 'em...
  • I agree whole-heartedly.

    It also tends to amaze me that alot computer professionals don't seem to get the TRUE point of software. Use the best tools to get the job done in the best way, in the least amount of time (without compromising the best part...). Whether it be a MS product, freeware, etc. In my opinion, limiting yourslef to one OS or one line of products means your limiting your skill-set...course this is open to de(flame)bate.

    As a VB programmer, I find myself continually shunned in certain elements of the "community" for my use of MS products. Sorry, but I guess I owe my job to Gates. Not to fill the man's already super-inflated ego, but Microsoft made the personal computer TRULY marketable with an astounding saturation. Not an opinion, just a fact. True the ethics of their business practicies may be in question, but what was the phrase? "Dog eat dog"? I think alot of professionals, even the Linux supporters, owe their positions to a company that made joe-shmo buy a hunk of silicon, jack it into the wall and plug in to the net.

    Gotta respect that. :)

    Jonny Angel
  • Gates already sold off 3,000,000 shares of Microsoft stock earlier this year. The stock price momentarily dropped, but seems to be doing quite well again.
  • What you can or can't do depends on details of your situation which you haven't specified.

    Are you 18+? If so, you can open your own bank account and deposit the money there, and your father will not be able to access it directly. Then you can control the purse strings, and can insist your father use whatever you give him the appropriate manner, or pay off any debts he has incurred directly. Thus if he's still wasting money on drinks, drugs, gambling, etc., you can limit the further damage he can do. Also, this would enable you to set aside funds for moving, getting a higher-paying job, etc. If you're under 18, you would have to petition the court for adult status, I'm not sure exactly how this works. (Check into what the gymnast Dominique Moceanu was doing, she was trying for this sort of status.)

    Above all, don't panic! It must be frustrating not to control your earnings, but if you are less than 18, you're still approaching that age, and then you will have control over it. And in the meantime, you're gaining useful experience and contacts that will help you in future endeavors.

    If you respond to this message with more info, I can give you more specific advice. I have no particular qualifications other than being older than your average slashdotter...
  • So why not spend valuable research time and money on something that kills so many more people a year (no... not Windows) like Cancer.

    Cancer may kill more in the U.S., but in Africa, AIDS is epidemic. (Oh, and by the way, a high percentage of those cancer deaths are likewise preventable -- lung cancer from cigarette smoking.) 1.4 million people in Africa died from AIDS last year. The cost is staggering, in terms of caring for the dying, lost productivity from the young adults killed by it, the large number of orphans created, etc. And the number of cases is expected to rise.

    Furthermore, with AIDS, you have the fear of possible mutation. What would happen if a strain of AIDS became airborne, like Tuberculosis, or could be passed through bodily fluids? It wouldn't take long for it to get from Africa to New York.

    Education programs are being used in Africa to try to reduce risky behaviour as well, with some degree of success.
  • Let's take some generic civ, and we'll say that the average woman in that civ has 6 kids.

    Many of them have that many kids because so few live to adulthood, and with that many you assure having someone to support you in your old age. Up the survival rate and the birth rate tends to go down.

    In 30-50 years, we can make a population completely dependant upon us for survival.

    We're all pretty much dependent on modern technology for survival. The land of the U.S. wouldn't support 250 million hunter-gatherers.
  • Several years ago some of Bill Gates' associates (libertarians at Microsoft) were trying to get him involved in politics. They wanted Gates to either run for office or use some of his money to support a political campaign. Gates wasn't willing to do it, and his stated reasoning was that it was a bad idea to get involved in politics unless he could devote full-time attention to it, and he was too busy with Microsoft to do that at this time. The same sound reasoning applies equally well to making huge charitable donations.

    Bill Gates doesn't like to attack problems in a half-assed fashion; he wants to work on one problem at a time and attack it thoroughly. We know this from his business ventures; Microsoft generally doesn't give up until it wins. (or, more rarely, is thoroughly defeated despite vast expenditure of effort). What makes the company so successful is its focus: Gates picks his battles carefully, and doesn't attack unless he thinks the odds are good.

    Apply this mindset to charitable efforts and it's quite easy to explain what we saw with Rockefeller and what we can expect from Gates. Gates will keep earning money until he gets bored or frustrated with his current path and retires from active service with Microsoft. After that, he'll start worrying about how to give the money away.

    But I don't blame him at all for not spending or donating much money now. Giving away that magnitude of money is basically a full-time job. Think of your favorite charity. Could it handle a grant of, say, one billion dollars? Do they have the accounting resources, the banking resources, the talent, the scruples and common sense at all levels, to use it effectively? Could he just write them a check and expect good things to happen?

    With great fortunes come great responsibility. Bill should keep doing what he's doing until he has the time and energy to focus on charity, and then he should think long and hard and carefully about how to donate money in a way that does more good than harm.

    Good luck, Bill. You'll need it!

  • I suppose donating to charity is like motherhood and apple pie and all that sort of thing, but personally, I'd rather just see a half-decent operating system out of Redmond. That would help a lot more people than any charity.


  • Isn't Kodak hurting, though? I thought digital photography was all but killing their core business. I know I haven't bought film in over a year because of my digital still/video camera lets me take all the pictures I want without the bother and expense of film + developing.


  • Aren't you worried that Barnes & Noble or amazon.com would eat your lunch?

    If I had a lot of money, I'd move to Newport Beach or Malibu, get a T1 line straight to my home, and try and figure out some inspiring Internet-based project, maybe some variant on the free web page community theme. I'd also buy a nice boat and do some sailing.

    I could do the Internet part now, if I had the time to really think. The problem for me is really time and energy (and the cost of time), not raw dollars.


  • Depends on your area. In Detroit, Michigan, you could buy a decent house for around $ 50k. Here in Los Angeles, California, that same house (in a good area) would cost in the $ 500,000 range. And if you want to feel rich, you're probably talking about spending at least $ 1 million for a home.

    Still, I could probably retire comfortably on $2 million and have enough money for a creative project or two to keep me amused, simply because I'm not keen on having kids. Kids really kill off money fast. Budget is $ 500,000 for a house, $ 250,000 for assorted extravagences, and the rest in an investment fund.


  • We dumped billions of dollars into Africa for years and years on basically charitable impulses, and I can't say it's done anything to get Africa out of poverty. I'm skeptical about pretty much all charity.


  • Yes, it's probably wrong to complain about him giving his money away, but he has been under flack for a while for being REALLY slow about it. Up until really recently, he was put to shame even in raw numbers by all the other billionaires--he was not very good at giving away money. He really has kicked things into gear in the past year. Maybe he's getting tired, maybe it's because he's worth twice as much now as he was a year ago. It's not entirely unreasonable to say that he might be doing it because of the trial or because he's tired of people saying he doesn't give away enough money (that's always been enough to goad him in the past). Just saying that while it's good that he gives money away, as modern billionaires go he's taking his sweet time.
  • We may disagree with Microsoft's business practices. We may disagree with the way that Bill Gates made his billions. We may dispute that one man should be allowed to be that rich. However, the fact the Bill is prepared to donate most of his fortune to charity shows that he has at least some scruples. It's surely a Good Thing that the richest man in the world is prepared to use his billions to support a charitable foundation.

    Maybe he is doing it to try to save face and look less greedy. On the other hand, maybe he's doing it because he wants to put his fortune to good use. We could sit and debate his motives for ever. The point is, he's doing it, and has made the right decision.

  • If any of Gates' 100 billion dollars goes to curing a disease that you are (or will be) afflicted with, you people owe him an apology for all the criticism.

    Not necessarily. Extreme example: if I kill a man, serve my time in jail, then discover the cure for cancer when I get released, the fact that I've discovered the cure for cancer does not excuse the earlier crime I committed. Doing a wonderful deed in the present does not excuse past failings.

    I think Bill Gates may go down in history as a flawed character; someone who built up a fortune in a less-than-ethical manner[1], but who later put that fortune to good use.

    [1]: My opinion only. I am aware that some people reading this do not disagree with Microsoft's business practices.

  • So you think he'll be seen like Andrew Carnegie, then? You know, the guy who hired Pinkertons to beat and kill strikers, but then gave his money to the library system?

    I don't think Bill Gates will be seen in that bad a light, because he hasn't been responsible for any killings. It's a good analogy though.

  • You're right about one thing - people here are waaaay to hard on Microsoft. We need to just calm down and realize that they are a company trying to make money, just like any other. And big deal, their products are flawed just like any other. What this really boils down to it propaganda.

    Seriously - we've talked so much trash about MS here that it's become ingrained in our heads that they are the minions of Satan. People cry out "Microsoft is trying to get rid of company XYZ". Well of course they are, XYZ is their competitor. Just because it's against the law doesn't mean its not human nature. EVERYONE wants to get rid of the competition.

    And what bothers me more is that the Linux Community as a whole seems to be showing this too. Here at /. you're either part of the solution or you're flaimbait. Anyone who praises MS or critiques Open Source gets moderated down. There doesn't seem to be any room to share.

    I'm about to get a new PC and with 27 gigs of hard drive space, you can bet your ass that I'm going to put Win98, Linux, AND WinNT on it. Because you know what? I enjoy some of MS's products. I'm writing this from IE5.0 and it's just flat out better than Navigator ever will be. Hell, Wordpad basically blows AbiWord out of the water.

    Now I'm just ranting, but listen - I love Linux and I love Free Software even more. It's flexibility and freedom cannot be beaten. However - and this is for the "World Domination" people out there - you don't want what you're asking for. The day that 90% of the PCs on this planet run Linux is the day that you start running NetBSD. Or some other, less popular, OS.

    Because the real driving force behind Linux isn't any of the crap that Raymond or Perens wail about. Don't kid yourselves guys, it isn't. It's the fact that NOBODY ELSE USES IT! It's the idea that you're trendy and the other fellow who runs MS stuff is just a "windoze luser". And when he finally becomes a "linux luser", you'll move on to greener pastures - I guarantee it.

  • Looking at Bill and Melinda Gates Foundations [gatesfoundations.org] There are three foundations listed:

    • William H. Gates Foundation
    • Gates Learning Foundation
    • Gates Center for Technology Access

    From the site:

    William H. Gates Foundation

    At the end of 1998, the Foundation had committed $133 million to organizations working in global health; $122 million to educational concerns; more than $42 million to community projects in the Pacific Northwest; and over $60 million to special projects and annual giving campaigns.

    Gates Learning Foundation

    The Gates Learning Foundation began life as the Gates Library Foundation in June 1997 with the mission of helping to bridge the "digital divide" between those who have access to computers and the Internet and those who lack such access. By the end of 1998, the Foundation had awarded grants of over $22 million to 1300 libraries in 28 states to bring Internet access to their patrons, as well as provide staff technical assistance and training.

    Gates Center for Technology Access

    The Gates Center for Technology Access (GCTA) is dedicated to ensuring that no one becomes "information disenfranchised." GCTA works to establish access to information technology resources in communities throughout the United States through partnerships with libraries, schools, and community organizations.

    Check out the Lance Armstrong Foundation [laf.org]

  • *grin* That's why I'd be likely to do it if I was independently wealthy and didn't care how much money I was losing. I'd love to stay in business to be a thorn in their sides.

    But that's just me, and I'm a bit annoyed lately because a local bookstore folded thanks to B&N, Borders, etc. Fortunately, Blue Sunday (all used books, lots of good stuff, and wonderful coffee) is alive and well in my area. I just wish they weren't all the way the heck out in the only-accessible-by-car suburbs. I'd love to open a similar business in the middle of the city :)

  • *chuckles* My mom (a civil servant) is talking about taking "early retirement" and in her case that means 55 years old! This guy from AOL retired at the age my mom had me. Scary.

    If I were in a position to retire that early, I wouldn't stay retired for long. My boyfriend and I have been talking about opening a bookstore for a while now, and that would make it a lot easier to do (not to mention, we could stay in business even if the darn thing started to lose money).

    But hey, I'm only partially a slacker -- enough to be wasting some of my workday on /. but not enough to wish I didn't have to work at all. I kind of like having a reason to get up in the morning, and it's not just for the money :)

  • I agree that it's a good thing that he is donating to charity, but a company that does something damaging and then makes a big show of donating to charity (or, as Kodak is doing here, of reminding people about past donations) just doesn't sit right with me, somehow.

    Kodak's founder put a lot of money into establishing music programs and dental clinics -- a local dental school and a well-known music college both bear George Eastman's name.

    However, at the moment, I'd say that most of the Rochester area is substantially pissed at Kodak's current business practices. We're all well aware that George Eastman was a nice guy for giving all tihs money to things that still benefit our city. But Eastman's been dead for a while now, and yet the current powers-that-be at Kodak can still point to his good works even as they continue to close plants and threaten large layoffs in the name of "good business practice."

    Sorry, I know I'm ranting. The point is that no matter how "generous" you are with a fortune, getting that fortune by stepping on other people does a lot of damage. It's all well and good to see the "reformed" Scrooge, but perhaps Tiny Tim would have been a healthy child in the first place if Scrooge had paid his father a decent wage to begin with.
  • They said that Bill Gates wanted to help third world countries, and cure diseases. Diseases are nature's way of thinning out the weak.

    However, you don't reach epidemic proportions until you get too great of a population. So it's system of checks and balances.

    By helping people live, we're killing off their entire civilization.

    Let's take some generic civ, and we'll say that the average woman in that civ has 6 kids. Because of disease, only 2 of these kids will live to an age where they can reproduce. (so, on average, one more female). Which means, we're at replacement value.

    We go and vaccinate all of the kids against Polio and whatever else, and suddenly, 4-6 of those six kids might live to reproduce. That's 2 or 3 females. Another generation, and what should have been 1 kid is now 4 to 9. One more, and it's 8 to 27.

    And we're not talking American generations, with maybe 35-40 years before they have kids, we're talking about having kids at 15-20, because they'd be dead by the time they're 50.

    But now that the kids live, the parents can't feed that many kids. So what happens? In most societies, the motherly instict is so strong that the mother gives her share to the children, so she's too weak to do anything productive. The kids aren't doing much better, and chances are, neither is the father.

    In 30-50 years, we can make a population completely dependant upon us for survival. All because of a little humanitarian effort.
  • I made a bunch of money in Silicon Valley, years ago. It was nice, I was able to quit my job, got rid of all my material possessions, and did the things I wanted to do.

    Granted, I didn't get any where near the $1 million mark, so my spending wasnt that over the top.

    After a while I found myself back working again as a consultant. Working was fun, for little blocks of time. In between there is travel, the only really fun thing in my life.

    The money has only paid for a few things, more education, lots of travel, a place to live, extra time off every year.

    But I still like working (maybe I should do some today, instead of slashdotting :-) But too much working leads to stress and burnout.

    the AC

"The one charm of marriage is that it makes a life of deception a neccessity." - Oscar Wilde