The Philanthropy of Bill Gates

Hypothetically, lets say I am Notch – developer of probably one of the more successfully developed and simple to play 3D Indy games in the history of gaming. Success, is some amalgamation of generating wealth and publicity to the point that more people follow your game than care about what the president is doing about the “crisis” in the middle east.

Minecraft is one of the more open Indy games, sharing a number of interesting statistics:

10465452 registered users, of which 2780220 (26.56%) have bought[*] the game.

In the last 24 hours, 40430 people registered, and 8843 people bought the game.

As of 2:28pm on July 12, 2011

This means that this game has pulled in 41,564,289 Euros, or $56,466,268.2. This money is being handled internally, of course, but with so much money going into their business should they to continue along this hypothetical and decide to be philanthropic… how much do they need to be giving away to be considered charitable or philanthropic? Is there a percentage that rich people should be expected to donate?

I should probably give you some context. On the most recent episode of Chariots of Iron, a podcast about Atheist activism, a guy wrote in.

Hey guys, just wanted to chime in about Bill Gates. I don’t know much about software, but I understand basic math, and I get tired of hearing about how wonderful bill gates is with charity. He is not wonderful; he is still the 2nd richest man in the world. I will impressed with his charity when he gives enough away to move down the list of richest in the world.

— Ryan

According to Forbes, Bill Gates has a net worth of $56 Billion. How much of that money is he supposed to be hemorrhaging to be consider a philanthropist? Over its life time the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has donated $28.144 billion dollars to charity, so how can this man make such a horrible assertion. On What grounds can anyone question a persons choice in how and where to spend their money. It is none of their business if bill decides to buy dildos and store them on the beach in the Cayman Islands. On what grounds can anyone who can say “I understand basic math” make an assertion about whether Bill Gates’ deserves to be considered philanthropic?

Lets look at the basic math…

28.144/56 = 50.2% of his net wealth has been donated.

We are talking about the net wealth of course, which is not his income, nor liquidity. net wealth refers to the value of assets owned minus the value of liabilities owed at a point in time. So in spite of the perceived value of his pocket book, Ryan is suggesting that he needs to sell his house, cars, and whatever else he has accumulated based on his risk of investing in Microsoft decades ago.

I am by no means a pillar of philanthropy, nor do I speak for all people who are able to understand basic math. Standing on the side of following logic and reason, however, Bill is a philanthropist the likes of which few have ever met, written or breathed besides. If he were to have only donated a quarter of this amount he would still be quite safe in holding the title of second most donated within the united states. His contributions to education, health and increasing the quality of life abroad should be cherished, no matter how much money the man has accumulated in playing this game of monopoly we call life.