Thursday, July 20, 2006

Wealth: a study in contrasts

Bill Gates and Dick Cheney. Both unbelievably wealthy individuals. And what do they do with it?

Well, Cheney's betting on bad news. He's got between $10 to $30 million in a series of funds that hedge well against inflation rates. Two of the three are tax-exempt funds; the third is an inflation-protected fund. The principal and interest of these bonds rise with consumer prices.

The Cheneys also had between $10 million and $25 million in American Century International Bond (BEGBX, news, msgs). The fund buys mainly high-quality foreign bonds (predominantly in Europe) and rarely hedges against possible increases in the value of the dollar. Indeed, its prospectus limits dollar exposure to 25% of assets and the fund currently has only 6% of assets in dollars, according to an American Century spokesman. It's like he hopes the dollar will drop so he can get wealthier. Betting against America, is old Blasty McBirdshot. BTW, Cheney's assets could be around $94M -- but it's a little unclear, because he hides a lot.

On the other hand, Bill Gates, worth more money than most countries, has just earmarked $278M for AIDS vaccine research. But the $287 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation also comes with the requirement that researchers share data and collaborate in a way that's rare in science. Vaccine candidates that don't pass muster will be quickly abandoned. Those that show promise will get fast-track treatment. Warren Buffett recently handed $30M over to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which in addition to AIDS research, focuses on improving education. The Governator of California, who I really don't like, just gave a loan of $150 M for stem cell research in California (just after Bush vetoed a bill on stem cell research.)

So. If you had gazillions of dollars, what would you do with it? Would you hedge against inflation for your own personal gain, while letting your country disintigrate? Or would you work toward the greater good? It sounds so obvious in theory. But really, how many of us would put our money where our heart is?

8 comments:

anita said...

i guess there individuals out there who reject the fact that some people (including myself) who appear to be putting bill gates on a pedestal for his philanthropic endeavors, people who question his motivation, who remind us of his having done a very good job thank you for much at killing his competition over the years, etc., etc.

but i say let's take his actions (as well as the actions which warren buffet and george soros claim they will take) for what they are worth give him the credit he is due for putting his money, in this particular regard, where his mouth is, and for putting his fellow gazillionaires on the spot with regard to their own 'debt to society' ... calling attention the moral obligation that exists for them to give back to a society, to world, that has given them so, so very much.

and cheney. he just makes me want to spit. literally. he disgusts me. i'll just have to leave it at that because i feel myself slipping into expletives ...

DivaJood said...

Anita, actions are everything. Words, intentions, are meaningless unless the actions back it up. Cheney and Bush used to try to speak as "compassionate conservatives" and they've even given up that bullshit. Gates and Buffett may be total assholes, but they're using their obscene amounts of personal wealth for a greater good. Actions.

betmo said...

if i had a gazillion dollars that fyi dickie boy- you can't spend after you die- i would put it into family planning. contraceptives are important in the developing world and now that the abstinence only crowd is in power- disease is on the rise. how can a population worry about starting an economy if over half of its population is dying of aids/hiv and other preventable diseases. i am not talking abortion here people- prevention, contraception.

DivaJood said...

betmo, 3rd world people don't count in the PNAC's view of the world.

Pete's Blog said...

Unfortunately Cheney remains the power behind the throne.

After Bush goes Cheney may maintain a pivotal position in any new Republican Administration.

A sad influence on US democracy and the world.

DivaJood said...

Pete, I fear you're right. Especially if Jeb Shrub runs.

SB Gypsy said...

Jeff Shrub - hell ANY shrub would be poisonous to our prospects.

IMHO, it's been Cheney's plan all along to run up a huge debt and then devalue. It's how he can capture for himself all of the money we baby boomers have been saving for retirement all these years.

DivaJood said...

SB Gypsy, I've not got any savings for retirement, so I guess Cheney can't have mine. :]