The Bottom Line: Bill Gates, Kevin Depew;Two of a Kind
The frequently, if not actually, daily Minyanville take on news, commentary and opinion from around the world:
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates told an online advertising conference yesterday he'd prefer not to be the richest person in the world, according to the Associated Press. "I wish I wasn't," he said in an interview with Donny Deutsch, the host of a CNBC interview show. "There's nothing good that comes out of that," he said.
- Bottom Line: While some might read Mr. Gates' comments above and choose the easy path toward cynicism and jealousy, I choose to look deeper, beneath the surface, where I find... in a word... kinship. We are two of a kind, Bill Gates and Kevin Depew.
Yes, where some see an ingrate, I see a comrade in capitalism. Where some see thanklessness, I see a misunderstood fellow club member, albeit a fellow member of a club with very strict membership rules based on a very high net worth threshold. Where some see an insensitive grouse, I see a likeable curmudgeon with a fondness for wool v-neck sweaters.
Yes, Mr. Gates, we are two of a kind, you and I. Just as you find your role as the number 1 wealthiest person in the world a burden, a heavy yoke to be taken up daily without the benefit of the poor man's 10-minute work break or respite, so too do I, Kevin Depew, find a similar burden in my place as the 245,674,213th wealthiest person in the world.
While it is true that a guy like me has it easy compared to the 245,674,214th or 245,674,215th wealthiest person in the world, I understand what it's like to wake up each morning knowing that yet another day on the hamster mill awaits, another day striving to maintain my place as the 245,674,213th wealthiest man in the world. And for what? What does it all mean? Sometimes, like you, I wish I could just give it all away. Then, like you I suspect, I realize that if I did so my car would be repossessed. Still, it would be nice to give something away. Like a used book I don't read anymore. Or perhaps the coffee mug that has been in my desk drawer since last September. Ah, to be free of personal possessions! The burden of wealth lifted. If only I would not be homeless as a result!
No, like I imagine you do Mr. Gates, I too remember from where I came. In fact, it wasn't so long ago that I remember very clearly what it was like to be 245,674,214th wealthiest person in the world. In fact, I slipped from 245,674,213 to 245,674,214 just last Saturday after I lost $186 at the OTB on 3rd Avenue and then stopped for a hot dog and a beer at PJ Bernstein's, which actually dropped me down as low as 245,674,218 for a few minutes until the people ranked 245,674,215 through 245,674,217 received a ticket for speeding, bought a weed-eater at Home Depot and paid for three-days of long-term parking at LaGuardia, respectively.
Yes, people like us, the co-founder of Microsoft, and the managing editor for a widely-read online financial infotainment community, we are two of a kind. We know very well how money comes and goes with the snap of our fingers. In your case, a snap of the fingers dispatches $100,000,000 to a charitable foundation in Vietnam. In my case, a snap of the fingers causes the waiter at a Vietnamese restaurant to have his tip boosted by $1.00 for bringing me an extra side of peanut sauce. But the principles are the same. Easy come, easy go.
People like us, we understand that one minute we're on top of the world (or in my case, just ahead of the 245,674,214th wealthiest person in the world), the next minute we're standing in line at a pawnshop hocking our father-in-law's watch, but fortunately not actually having to sell it because we just remembered the safety $100 bill we keep behind the maxed out Citibank card in our wallets. Brothers we are, a burden we share (and if by chance you ever want to trade for a week or two, let me know).
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