Billionaires at Play

What if the 20 wealthiest Americans pooled their resources and worked together to develop and pass a set of ‘third-rail’ legislation that generally has the support of a silent majority, but is doomed to languish in our current political landscape? Just for fun and to annoy everyone, let’s say:

1. Congressional term limits; eliminating anonymous and unlimited PAC contributions

2. Banning semi-automatic weapons; background checks for gun purchases

3. Social Security Reform (raising rates, income caps, and/or retirement age)

These twenty individuals could use just 10% of their total wealth (a mere $60 billion) and fashion a political campaign for the ages. Here is what $60 billion might buy:

  • A staff of 1,000 in every state to lead the grassroots campaign. They could place personal phone calls to every U.S. household multiple times per month.
  • A staff of 2,500 in Washington DC to coordinate and lead the charge.
  • $1 billion in a PAC fund for each of the issues.
  • One-third of all U.S. advertising for an entire year – TV, internet, radio, magazines, newspapers, billboards, etc. Sure, it doesn’t actually work like this but you get the point.
  • About $5 billion in ‘pocket change’ to deal with unexpected problems as they arise, and to hire an army of expert consultants :).

Of course, once this set of low-hanging fruit was accomplished – who knows what they might be able to tackle next? The possibilities are endless…

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Random Facts

As the research for this book continues, I thought I would post an occasional interesting fact or two as I stumble across them. Like I said, the book is mostly fiction.

  • Humanity reached 1 billion in population around the year 1800.
  • 130 years later, in 1930, we reached 2 billion.
  • 30 years later, in 1960, we reached 3 billion.
  • 15 years later, in 1975, we reached 4 billion.
  • 12 years later, in 1987, we reached 5 billion.
  • 12 years later, in 1999, we reached 6 billion.
  • 13 years later, in 2012, we reached 7 billion.
  • Predictions to reach 10 billion range anywhere from 2050 to 2065. Or never.

But as usual, to me these statistics hide a more fundamental truth. The issue is not simply world population, it’s population combined with the amount of resources consumed. As an example – the average American consumes 32 times more resources than the average citizen of Kenya. In other words, if we could improve the standard of living for everyone on the planet so they lived like the average American, we would create a world where  we would need to provide food, clothing, and shelter for today’s equivalent of 70 billion people.

How would that work?

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