I'm short on time to take up the WTO thread (on SANET), but I did
want to kick in this resource, on the issue of the magnitude of
wealth and the density of its concentration.
As you try to educate people about what UberMegaMoney is and means,
and how that impacts on local decision making and intelligent-scale
food systems, some of you might find this Web site provides
interesting facts and perspectives:
The Bill Gates Net Worth Page
A few of the numbers are outdated, but much of it is current, or
recent, and it does a good job of putting context to what $73.8
billion means for those of us who still get excited finding an
unexpected $20 in our checking accounts. Or dairy farmers facing the
lowest per-hundredweight price in over two decades and ruination in a
It includes items such as these (taken verbatim from the Bill Gates
Net Worth Page):
--Imagine an endless line of $1 bills laid end to end. If you began
traveling along this line picking up dollar bills March 13, 1986 (the
day Microsoft went public), and you wished to accumulate wealth at
the same rate Bill [Gates] has since that date, you would need to
travel that line of bills picking them up at 59.22 MPH or 95.31 KPH.
--According to the US Treasury Department Learning Center, in Fiscal
Year 1997, the United States Government printed currency worth a
total of $142.23 Billion. Bill's net worth is 51.90% of that value.
--According to CNN FN, as of 12/7/99 , the price of gold is $278.75
per troy ounce.
There are 147 million troy ounces of gold in Fort Knox. (Fort Knox is
the United States repository for its gold reserves.) All the gold in
Fort Knox is, therefore, worth $40,976,250,000 or $40.98 Billion.
Bill is worth $32,847,452,779 more than all the gold in Fort Knox!
--On December 3, 1998, Bill announced that he was donating $100
million to vaccinate third-world children. While this is certainly a
very generous donation, let's put it into perspective. $100 million
represents 0.135% of his total net worth. Proportionally, this is the
same as someone with a net worth of $100,000 making a donation of
--What if Bill decided to keep all his cash under his mattress? Let
us assume that Bill and Melinda sleep on a King Size mattress.
According to the folks at Slumberland Furniture, an American King
Sized bed is 78 by 80 inches, or 6240 square inches, or 43 1/3 square
feet in area. It takes 397.57 bills to cover a king-sized mattress.
Using all of Bill's money (as $1 bills), you could cover the
king-sized mattress with bills 185,470,360.44 bills deep. That means
Bill would have a jump of 796,010.13 inches or 12.56 miles to get
from the bed to the floor each morning, not counting the thickness of
the bed itself.
--What if you earned the US Minimum Wage? How long would it take you
to earn Bill's fortune? As of September 1, 1997, the US Minimum Wage
was $5.15 per hour. If you worked continuously, 24 hours a day, 7
days a week, and saved every bit of your earnings (disregarding
taxes), you would need to work for 1,633,354.33 Years to earn Bill's
money. If you took the wimpy approach, and only worked 40 hours a
week, then it would take 6,860,088.21 Years.
--It cost Mike Tyson $3 million (he forfeited 10% of the fight purse)
when he bit off a piece of Evander Holyfield's ear in a boxing match.
Assuming that piece of ear weighed about 1/2 an ounce, Bill could
afford to eat 768.99 pounds of Evander
Holyfield if he were so inclined.
Center for Integrated Ag Systems, UW-Madison
UW voice mail: 608-262-8018
Home office: 415-504-6474 (504-MISH)
Home office fax: Same as above, phone first for enabling
If you want to know how God feels about money,
just look at the people he gave it to. --Dorothy Parker
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