America has modern-day deities in the form of the mega-wealthy, celebrities, and (maybe) seasoned politicians. Like it or not, we do. So, I started to muse about investing in one thing – and then that led to the creation of this hypothetical list if I were part of the top of the pantheon: The coveted Forbes Billionaires List.
You might have heard of it. The Forbes Billionaires List tracks the movement of wealth among the top of the 1% income distribution in the world on a regular basis and can lead to some interesting discussions. If you’ve never seen the visual of “Wealth, shown to scale” I highly encourage you to stop what you’re doing (even reading this post) and check that out. You won’t be disappointed.
The purpose of this post is simply daydreaming and sharing. I’m not sniping wealthy people, passive-aggressively telling you what to do with your money, or virtue-signaling anymore than I normally do on my site (haha). I also don’t try to fix ALL of the world’s problems, but I would try to take on some pretty big chonkers. Enjoy, and if you care to share – let me know what you’d invest in if you had Bezos-money using the comment section below.
PLEASE NOTE: All of these scenarios pretty much imagine I had money at the levels of the wealthiest people in the world. Bezos, Musk, Buffett, Zuckerberg, etc. I would start all of these investment efforts locally first and then expand (so I’d start in my city, then my state, then my region, etc.), and these are all things I’d be willing to sacrifice a personal fortune on to solve.
Heading into the list (in no particular order). Feel free to use these links to skip around quickly.
As someone who had Bezos-level money, the first issue I would address is homelessness in my city with the creation of a privatized program that builds out shelters (with food, housing, clothing, etc.), provides therapy, financial aid, and job training to lead to gainful employment. There would also be financial guidance provided to help those individuals get back on their feet and stabilized once they’re employed (and they’d be allowed to stay at one of the shelter units until they’re able to find their own place to rent — this would be time-bound once they gain employment).
The job training would specifically be geared toward getting those participants who are able to work in my business first (again, this is all hypothetical – but imagine if Bezos trained people to have the skill sets to work in his warehouses), and I’d strive to expand the pool of employer options through a network of local businesses who would like to participate in the initiative.
Those who were unable to work (think physically unable to work) would be supported through the program indefinitely. Those who are deemed able to work, but choose not to work, could go through the program as much as needed – but they would not be given indefinite residency in one of the many shelters this initiative would provide (they’d only have that shelter residency when they were in the program – and newer people to the program would be prioritized over past participants).
The aims of this program would be to eliminate homelessness in our city and restore dignity to the lives of many while harnessing the power of Community (with a big “C”) and good corporate citizenry. Once this is all set up in a good way and well on its way to accomplishing those key goals, I would try to work with state representatives to expand into other cities in the area, and eventually the entire state (this process would repeat for each of these initiatives).
I Would Build Fire-Resistant See-Through Barriers Near U.S. Cities/Regions Annually Impacted by Seasonal Wildfires
Think of this as a literal un-intrusive thick high density see-through Fire-rated Ballistic Resistant Glass (it exists) wall built around large forest areas. Like, you’d be driving on the highway right past one of these wall structures – but you’d still be able to see nature around you.
And there would be gaps in the walls between runs of solid barrier (like if you stood up a bunch of dominoes next to each other) because the idea here is to slow and create chokepoints for the flames vs. fully contain them (which I just don’t think is possible).
It would slow the spread of flames that naturally (and unnaturally occur), better-protecting residents and property until the area firefighters could get the blazes under control.
It would still allow for humans to interact with nature – seeing the splendor around them and passing through gaps in the barriers when they wanted to engage in camping, hiking, fishing, mountain climbing, hunting, and so on.
It would create predictable pathing of where firefighters could cut off key burn sites.
I don’t even live on the West Coast (yet – more on that in another post), but I just want to stop more of this from happening…
…And I think we have the tech to better protect ourselves as humans now while still respecting nature.
I Would Make Public Colleges Free (or “Damn Near”) for In-State Residents
I have always believed in the power of education and the access it provides. And I really do think that a more educated population benefits ALL of us.
That said, I would put my money where my mouth is and heavily support the educations of area college students for as long as I was able. Would there be conditions? YES. I would require that they stay in-state as a resident for at least 5-years upon completion of their degree. If they leave, they pay things back. The free money would then become a loan.
The fact that so many different businesses and countries are striving to build out compatible networked systems for this new mode of transportation is highly encouraging for someone, like myself, who just wants to see a new transport tech pop-up and has given up on flying cards and real-life hoverboards (damn you, Back to the Future).
I Would Develop a Secure Mobile (at least “Online”) Voting Alternative Backed by Local Government
Without making this hyper-political, I will just make the argument that if the government trusts me to pay my taxes online using my social security number online each year — they can also (logically) have faith in the creation of a secure web-based voting system. They literally trust in our internet security enough to make probably the most important government-based payments each year while using our most sensitive numeric-based form of identification…
I’m just sayin’.
(Here’s a whole playlist about the issue)
I would strive to work things out with the political powers that be to create and test a secure system for our local elections. Once that is vetted enough, I’d continue to push to have it allowed to handle federal votes in the same area. Once that’s accomplished – I would try to spread its adoption as much as I could across the United States.
I really do think this is a matter of “when” does this happen – not “if”. As a society, we do EVERYTHING electronically. It would be archaic and just downright non-sensical to continue to keep this one aspect of our society in-person and mail-in paper-based when literally EVERYTHING else has an online alternative. Imagine having reliable voting results instantly that are also MUCH easier to verify by removing a human element. This is kind of a no-brainer and I do think we’ll get here as a society eventually.
Make the arguments all you want about someone corrupting or influencing results electronically — ok — people also make those same arguments now, only now everyone has to inconvenience their day and we have to gridlock areas of our government processes for weeks on end and waste taxpayer money on something that’s really easily solved with tech. Again, I make my tax payment annually electronically.
I Would Match Desiring Homes and Shelter Animals For Free (Covering Required Medical Expenses as Well)
Ending on what I hope is the least controversial thing on this list. I would totally throw money at creating a system that immediately homes shelter animals with families who want a new animal family member.
Are there things I can do (and actually do) about some of these initiatives now? Yes. Absolutely. But it’s not at the scale of if one of the world’s wealthiest dedicated themselves to it.
These are all efforts I would commit to if I had Bezos Money, and I’d be willing to go broke accomplishing AT LEAST one of them. There wouldn’t be any political or personally beneficial goal in sight, this would all just be done with the aim of improving the world around me if I had that kind of personal wealth. I figure setting these up as not-for-profit efforts and then working with our tax system could probably lead to the funding of some of this for a LOOOOOONG time (like it might outlive me for sure).
All of that said, I’m curious what other people would spend that kind of money on! What would your initiative(s) be? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.