I'm advocating for eliminating billionaires in the US-- through laws, taxation, consumer boycotts-- whatever it takes that's legal, plus civil resistance and civil disobedience that's consistent with the fight for rights and justice in American history.
Laura commented on my poll, Time for Debillionairization?
and asked if I would turn down a billion dollars. The answer, since there are no rules on having a billion now, is "no."
There was once a time in my life when it looked like my invention would make me a millionaire... in just a few months. It fell through, but I spent a ride on a train to NYC thinking about what I'd do with a million dollars. Pay off bills and mortgage, salt away money for my kids' college tuitions, take my family and parents and sibling's family on a vacation, spend maybe $100,000 on things, like a great fishing boat. Put away a few hundred K for retirement. I ran out of things to do with a million dollars. I wasn't as political then, was in the early stages of raising a family and starting a business.
Now, if I had a billion dollars, What would I do? This is a fun fantasy.
First, I'd hire kick-ass accountants to help me keep as much as possible within the laws of ALL nations, so I could use the money for myself and for good.
As a billionaire, I'd reach out to other billionaires and try to get them to join me. That would include exploring and publicizing generous, good-doing wealthy people. That would leverage my money. I'd offer matching funds so others would get involved-- making funding of good works bottom up for the wealthy. And I'd use bottom up approaches to help billionaires and multi-millionaires come up with good ideas on how to use their wealth to make the world a better place.
I'd do a lot of things for the left that the Koch brothers do for the right-- set up a few policy promotion organizations-- the right calls them think tanks. I'd start a foundation, probably with a few subsidiaries, to fund good works. I'd fund supreme court challenges, give a lot of money to real progressive candidates, fund advocacy for voting integrity, election finance reform, fighting for social and environmental justice.
I'd invest in start-up companies that were working on green works, on technologies that could do good and profit by making the world a better place. I'd also fund research on ways that companies could do that-- new companies and old companies. Wouldn't it be nice if tax breaks were based on how companies did good, in specific, measurable ways?
I'd start and fund a left wing radio network, providing the funding for the first five to ten years, to compete with the right wing echo chamber.
I'd fund foundation support non-profit activist organizations and individuals that were too politically incorrect or rough edged for established foundations-- a kind of McArthur foundation for courageous activists. It would encourage civil resistance and disobedience and the people who fought for causes that legislators failed to represent. This would include Thom Hartmann, Naomi Klein, David Swanson, Will Potter, Kevin Zeese, Cindy Sheehan, Sibel Edmonds, Margaret Flowers, Chris Hedges, and another one to support promising under 30 progressives who have shown dedication and vision, like Kevin Gosztola. I'd use bottom up approaches to identify candidates.
I'd help fund the Sunlight foundation and Wikileaks, supporting openness and transparency.
I'd fund investigative journalism, providing matching funds to media orgs-- profit and non-profit-- to hire investigative journalists to cover social and environmental justice and corruption.
I'd fund projects supporting the war on "big," like developing visions and models for discouraging, through legislation, taxes and incentives, bigger corporations. I'd support developing models for helping small businesses work together to share the benefits obtained normally by big business-- an alternative of the need to be acquired or to acquire to grow.
I'd pursue justice for war crime victims, ie., pursue war criminals and people who perpetrated crimes of social justice.
I'd reward heroes identified from bottom up approaches, like American Idol, in categories I'd influence, but also have defined from the bottom up.
I'd fund activists in other countries fighting for freedom against repressive governments. This could really prove powerful and effective.
I'd fund an organization for Dennis Kucinich-- whatever he wanted to do with it. God Bless Dennis.
I'd fight corporate personhood and fund candidates who stood up and promised to legislate against it and appoint SCOTUS justices who would oppose it.
I'd be sure I had enough salted away to insure a comfortable life for me. I would not expect to retire. Active involvement in all of the above would be far better than retiring.
I'd be sure my kids and grandkids would have enough to pursue their dreams and have a safety net.
Confession: I'd probably buy a home in some place tropical with good broadband access, and really would take my family on a great vacation.
I'd do things from the bottom up, and attempt to leverage the money to get the most mileage out of it, like I do with Opednews (which is non-profit)
My guess is that the non-self and family-directed spending and funding of foundations would bring my billion down to less than $50 million, probably less than $25 million.
Anyone have a billion to give me?
I'm sure I've left out stuff I'd like to do and that this is open to criticism. After all , I'm no monk or ascetic.
What would you do if you had a billion. Feel free to use more than one comment if you run out of characters.