Time Magazine has named three people as Persons of the Year. Two of them are Bill and Melinda Gates.
Not surprisingly, this has not gone over well in some circles.
Many have described his charitable actions as “giving away my money,” as if profits were inherently evil.
This is a very curious stand to take when you consider the third winner of the prize this year: Bono. What did Bono do to deserve the award? He persuaded governments to give away other people’s money, including in all likelihood, yours.
Now I’m not out to knock Bono and what he’s been doing, but if you damn Bill Gates for giving away your money, then just what is Bono doing? The only differences I see is that the government is doing the collecting, and all you get for your money is a receipt.
I’m not saying what Bono is doing is worse than what Bill Gates, but at the very least, it isn’t better.
Many people (and I don’t think Bono himself thinks this way) think it’s more noble and morally superior to give away somebody else’s money than their own, then take credit for it.
This is ludicrous. The people who should get the lion’s share of the credit for any charity, private or governmental, are the people who pay for it.
Let’s say you’re starving somewhere in the Third World. Two rich-looking, well-fed people, Ted and Fred, come up to you. Ted says, “This is terrible!” then says to the other, “Fred, you must feed this guy.” After a while, Fred relents and buys you some food.
Whom do you thank? You might say Ted got you the food, and maybe he should get a little credit for that, but bottom line is if Fred doesn’t take out his wallet, all you have to eat are Ted’s empty words.
It’s a lot easier giving away other people’s money and taking the credit for it than your own. Again, I don’t think Bono’s guilty of doing this to get credit, but there’s a lot of people out there who play this game.
I sometimes ask such people, “How much have you given?” I just want to see if they put their money where their mouth is. Often, they haven’t, and then things get unpleasant.
So don’t be so quick to damn Gates and praise Bono. After all, one can argue that they’re both following the lead of a certain legendary figure: