Monday, January 7, 2008

Of Camels and Needles

I was listening to a story on National Public Radio this morning about the annual Consumer Electronics Show that is taking place in Las Vegas. This exhibition is where manufacturers show off all of their technological gizmos and gadgets and alert the public to where the industry is headed. Over the years Bill Gates has been a prominent fixture at this event. The radio journalist doing today’s story noted that this will be Mr. Gates last year at the show in his capacity as head of Microsoft, noting that he will leave management of the company this summer in order to work full time with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The Gates Foundation is based on about 30 billion dollars of Microsoft money, and, thanks to a recent donation from philanthropist and businessman Warren Buffett, several more billions of dollars from his company, Berkshire Hathaway. Bill, Melinda, and Warren have an ambitious charity agenda that includes finding cures for twenty or more serious diseases, providing educational opportunities to minority students, bettering school libraries, and creating housing solutions for those in need.

It’s their money, and they are choosing to use it for good. That’s quite a refreshing change from the greed-heads that we often hear about – for instance, Leona Helmsley, the “Queen of Mean” who left 12 million dollars to her dog. Leona was a hotelier famous for saying that “only the little people pay taxes.”

Do you remember this Biblical admonition: "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God." (Matthew 19:24)

Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett may well get their camels through the eye of that needle, but Leona is probably toast! One hopes that her dog is more charitable!

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