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  • Tale of Three Billionaires

    • Posted on Oct 16, 2016
    Sunday, October 16th Courier column--showing how being really rich reveals your real character.  

    Much of what we think and do depends on how much money we have.   

     Imagine you control billions.  

     A whole new world opens up, and stays open.  Everyone around you is on your staff, and you only hire the best.  You don’t really need friends, since everyone’s your friend when you have unlimited resources.  In fact, you can never be sure who really likes you, since all that money attracts toadies and opportunists by the hundred.   

    Having thousands of millions becomes a major reveal for one’s truest self.  Are you generous and connected to mankind’s ongoing needs?   Or are you a piker, only concerning about amassing more millions?  

     Consider three billionaires and how they handle their money mountains: Bill Gates, Steven Spielberg, and Donald Trump.   

    Gates made his massive fortune, now estimated at 81.8 billion, as CEO of Microsoft. We’re now digital thanks partly to Gates and his software. Truth be told, he probably used a few monopolistic business practices that remain questionable.  

     But his philanthropic role model is not questionable.  When Gates resigned as Chair of Microsoft in 2000, he and his wife formed the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the largest private foundation in the world.  It funds dozens of humanitarian causes from disease control to K-12 education.  

    Gates became a “venture philanthropist,” funding fledgling humanitarian causes to
    help them grow.  Along with Warren Buffet and Mark Zuckerberg, Gates has signed a pledge to donate half of his billions to charitable causes. 

     Without question, philanthropist Bill Gates and his multiple million-dollar contributions has made the world a better place.  

    Steven Spielberg’s worth has been estimated at around 3.7 billion, most of it made from directing/writing/producing memorable films, from Jaws to Amistad to Empire of the Sun to Schindler’s List to Saving Private Ryan to Lincoln.  All made by a billionaire director/writer/producer whose first love remains films and filmmaking.

     Spielberg’s model:  Keep working, keep learning, keep contributing, keep making a positive difference in the culture, billions or no billions.   All profits from Schindler’s List went to promote understanding of the Holocaust, and he generously funds dozens of charities worldwide.   

    Last and least, there’s Donald Trump. Born into wealth, he created the Trump brand, which helped turned his inheritance into billions.  Until we see his tax returns we can’t know how many billions, nor can we know about his charitable contributions, though he certainly brags about his generosity.  

     However, we do know that he has not made a personal contribution to his own charity, the Donald J. Trump Foundation, since 2008, and his other contributions amount to “crumbs from his well-filled plate,” as one article puts it. 

    In fact, he’s the “least charitable billionaire in the world,” and Google that phrase for evidence.  Trump really doesn’t have a philanthropic bone is his body, and does no work that contributes to the betterment of anyone except Donald Trump. 

    Billionaires have no real obligation to contribute to anything. What they do with their money shows who they are.  

    Gates and Spielberg: generous and positive givers.   Trump:  miserly taker.    
    Go comment!
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  • Outsider Advice for Donald

    • Posted on Oct 02, 2016
    Here's this morning's Courier column--Sunday, 10-2; some outsider advice for Trump.   Better advice than from the Trumpeters, maybe.  

    Candidates for public office never lack for advice.  

    They live with a cacophony of suggestions on how to change, repair, reinforce, and fix their campaigns so they can win, or at least not humiliate themselves.   

    The vast majority of advice comes from supporters, and that’s to be expected. 
    Yet sometimes candidates might get better advice from those who are either indifferent or hostile.  Why?  Because non-supporters live outside a candidate’s inevitable support bubble.  They have no desire or need to flatter.   

    Granted, a candidate has to take outsider advice with a block of salt, but at least it connects with reality. 

    With that in mind, I’d like to offer some non-supporter advice for Donald Trump.  It’s not especially flattering, but it’s worth as much as Trump’s inside-the-bubble guidance he gets from toadies.    

    So, Donald, some honest advice:   

    1. Clean your sinuses and blow your nose hard before you speak in public.  Your sniffing and blowing made you seem like you caught something from Hillary. Since you’ve used stamina and low energy as standards for other candidates, you can’t afford to give hints of physical sickness beyond your bottomless narcissism, a debility you were born with.   

    2. Do not release your taxes.  I know Mark Sanford and other supporters advise you to release them, but don’t.    Without them, we can only imagine why you’re refusing, and that’s more interesting.  As Hillary showed, it’s fun to fantasize about what you’re hiding. You’re not a billionaire, or even that rich?  You gamed the system so that you paid no taxes at all? You gave a pitifully small amount to charities? Voters enjoy using their imaginations, so keep your taxes to yourself.  No other candidate has done that, and that makes you even more mysterious.     

    3. Keep entertaining.   Whatever else you may be, you’re an entertainer.  Your mugging, glaring, eye-rolling, lip-pursing, head-wagging, nonstop theatrical facial expressions keep debate viewers mesmerized.   You’re like watching a one-man train-wreck of exaggerated expressions.    

    4. Interrupt whenever you want.  You kept repeating “wrong” during Hillary’s assertion of your support for the Iraq war, as well as Lester Holt’s insistence that stop-and-frisk policies were judged unconstitutional, which made you seem passionate and engaged, not to mention certain of your positions.  Fact checkers proved you wrong over and over, so when you say “wrong” you seem to be talking about yourself.   Works for me.   

    5. Finally, the best advice I or anyone could give you at this point:  Don’t debate Hillary again.  You can’t prepare—that’s not in your nature—and you can’t articulate a single position and follow through on it.  Young debaters learn that fundamental skill in high school, but you evidently missed it.  

    Bluster and bullying worked against your Republican hopefuls, but you’re in the big leagues now.  

     If you feel no need to release your taxes, you should feel no need to humiliate yourself in another debate.  Or if you do, don’t bother preparing.  You’re most entertaining when you have no idea what you’re talking about.   
    Go comment!
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