Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Giving away a billion....

Most of us have at some time or the other dreamed of what we could do with a little extra money. And what if we came into more than extra money?

I read this article in Newsweek -Why I’m Giving Away $1 Billion by Peter G. Peterson -which is a good read. Peterson, at 81 found himself a billionaire. To quote the article - I began wondering: what do I do with $1 billion? The idea of trying to make the money grow felt empty to me. For my father, who saved or gave away so much of his modest income, the ultimate pejorative was "big spender." So buying a yacht was out of the question. I started looking at the lives of other billionaires. Almost all the ones I most admired were major philanthropists: Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Mike Bloomberg, George Soros, Eli Broad—each with a passion to do good, each getting so much pleasure from giving their money away.

He set up a Peter G. Peterson foundation and placed his 1 billion $ to it. And for those who wondered why he gave his billion away he has this interesting anecdote-
Kurt Vonnegut once told a story about seeing Joseph Heller at a wealthy hedge-fund manager's party at a beach house in the Hamptons. Casting his eye around the luxurious setting, Vonnegut said, "Joe, doesn't it bother you that this guy makes more in a day than you ever made from Catch-22?"
"No, not really," Heller said. "I have something that he doesn't have: I know the meaning of enough."

Peterson concludes that he has far more than enough.

So how much is enough. Not many can hope to be millionaires or anything close to that. We do lead fairly comfortable lives, but we can definitely do with some more. Maybe even if it was not for us, surely we could keep aside something for the children. Let them start life on a firm foundation. The list could be endless and it would not even seem selfish if we wanted to invest our money wisely. Are philanthropic deeds only for the wealthy? One need not wait to have far more than enough. There are times when nothing is ever enough. Yet, giving away a little of what we earn towards a good cause can give a lot of happiness. Try it.


  1. I so love this post. The meaning of enough. If we all knew the meaning of enough none of the world would be living in poverty. I am going to link tothis on my next post. Thank you.

  2. Thanks Lilly. I enjoy your posts and would like to know your view on this subject.

  3. Great post, Radha- very few people know the meaning of enough.

    Mr. Petersom must have obtained so much more satisfaction by giving away his billion $ to philanthropy, than he would have if he had spent it.

  4. Gr8 post Radha...if u really want to share ur 'more of enough' let me know,,,wink*

  5. Nice one. I feel knowing what enough means for us can be a fleeting state as well. Unless it is coupled with a decreasing motivation to gather from the outer world. As one moves towards being content with oneself, all aspects of external material gain seem to lose steam and drop away naturally. And 'giving away' too for some is one of the many ways he/she seeks personal happiness from the external world. What I also picked up from Peterson's experience which is so universal is - ' it(making money grow) felt empty'. Is it not with all agencies of external gratification after a while?


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