D Note: this bit was written by Brad Templeton, and appeared on rec.humor.funny and in Upside. Please don't cite this page, use http://www.clari.net/brad/billg.html instead.--RK
Most people will have read the recent reports of how
Microsoft Chairman (http://www.microsoft.com/billgates/default.asp)
Bill Gates has had his personal net worth soar over 40 billion
dollars. He certainly knows how to make money.
Consider that he made this money in the 22 years or so since
Microsoft was founded in 1975. If you presume that he has
worked 14 hours a day on every business day of the year
since then, that means he's been making money at a
staggering half-million dollars per hour, *around $150 per second.*
Which means that if, on his way into the office, should he
see or drop a $500 bill on the ground, it's just not worth
his time to bend over and pick it up. He would make more
just heading off to work.
It's perhaps more disturbing to look at the slope of his
appreciation this year. From January to July he's gained
some $16 Billion, meaning that at the rate he's going, if he
sees a $10,000 bill, he's just as well to pass it by. (They
do exist, but he won't see one until he buys the U.S.
treasury -- they are not circulated. Salmon Chase, former
secretary of the treasury and chief justice, is on it.) If
it's a pile of cash he has to count, it's even worse. At
$2,500 per second so far this year, they would have to be
thousand-dollar Bills -- and he would need to have a quick
hand -- to avoid him losing the money in wasted time while
he's counting them. Counting $500 bills would be very unprofitable.
The "Too-small-a-bill-for-Bill" index has gone up quite a
bit over the years. When Microsoft went public in 1986, the
new multimillionaire only had to leave behind $5 bills.
Bill Gates Dollars
Another way to examine this sort of wealth is to compare it
to yours. Consider the average American of reasonable but
modest wealth. Perhaps she has a net worth of $100,000. Mr.
Gates' worth is 400,000 times larger. Which means that if
something costs $100,000 to her, to Bill it's as though it
costs 25 cents. You can work out the right multiplier for
your own net worth.
So for example, you might think a new Lambourghini Diablo
would cost $250,000, but in Bill Gates dollars that's *63 cents*.
That fully loaded, multimedia active matrix 233 MHZ laptop
with the 1024x768 screen you've been drooling after? *A penny*.
A nice home in a rich town like Palo Alto, California? *Two
You might spend $100 on tickets, food and parking to take
your family to see an NHL hockey game. Bill, on the other
hand could buy _the team_ for *100 Bill-bills*.
You might buy a plane ticket on a Boeing 747 for $1200 at
full-fare coach. In Bill-bills, Mr. Gates could buy *three
747s*. One for him, one for Melinda and one for young
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