Thursday, September 1, 2016

Dear Bill Gates

Dear Bill Gates:

Because you are the richest person in the world I am guessing that you get a lot of letters asking you for money. However, I also suppose you don't read those letters because you pay someone to do that for you. However again, you probably don't pay them very much money to do that because one doesn't get to be the richest person in the world by paying out lots of money.

At this point you are probably wondering "Why am I reading this letter then? Don't I pay someone as little as possible to do that for me?"

The answer is: This is not a letter asking for money. This is a personal letter. And one cannot, no matter how wealthy they are, pay a person to live their personal life for them. Or so I have heard. I have never had the money nor the inclination to try.

But speaking of money I would like to suggest that you are doing it all wrong. You seem to have this giant foundation that is repeatedly credited in our culture for a plethora of donations, and you also seem to have a reputation as a great benefactor. I think this belies a desire on your part to do good. I do not mean to mock or discredit this noble desire. Indeed I support your impulses towards philanthropy. But I think you might be surrounded by people whose livelihoods, success, non-profits, wealth, and lifestyle depend on you and your good will. And I am afraid these people are protecting you from a very simple truth:

You are the richest person in the world.

You are the richest person in the world!

You can't be generous and also have more stuff than everyone else in the entire world ever. It just doesn't work like that.

I tell you this as a friend, a personal friend who is asking nothing from you. I know it is hard to hear. I am sure you have started to think of yourself as quite the philanthropist. But I have to say that until you start plummeting down the Forbes list of richest people because of all the money you give away, until that happens you are not actually giving anything away. Rather you are buying. And while it is entirely possible to buy an image like this if you have enough money, which you do, that does not make it mean anything. Alas, it is never possible to buy the truth.

Your friend (not like the others),

F. Calypso 


  1. I don't know if this is true because I haven't looked into it, but I heard J.K. Rowling got bumped off a rich list because of the amount of money she gave away.

    1. No, it is absolutely true and so interesting you would bring it up. Something about Bill Gates and the qualification of his largesse has been percolating in my head for months, but it was actually learning that very truth about JK Rowling- she did indeed drop off the Forbes list due to a combination of donations and british taxes, kind of firmed it all up for me and caused me to write the above. However, even taking her as among the most generous of super wealthy people, she actually donated a mere 16 percent of her income.

  2. Replies
    1. I know, it's very distorting. He's lucky he has friends like me.


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