What constructive thing would you do with $50 billion?

This is intended to be a different version of thisthread, for more constructive aims.

Imagine you’ve received up to $50 billion somehow and have gone through the usual hookers/vacations/luxury cars. Now you want to do something useful for society. Normally the world’s problems are complex, and restricted either by the need for projects to be profitable, or conversely, by a chronic lack of funding. We’re looking for simplistic solutions through the liberal application of money, though! Now, you can simply throw money at pet projects to make the world a (slightly) better place; much less than the GDP of industrialised countries, but still a hefty sum. Preferably you can have fun while doing it. What do you do?

Here’s my idea. First, I’d make myself king. For example, by buying a square kilometre of Kyrgyzstan or an uninhabited island belonging to a small Caribbean/Pacific island state. Make my new kingdom an autonomous region rather than independent state, so that I have de facto international recognition and a measure of protection against invasion. Make it so I can rule by decrees in my new territory, and have legal exceptions to all regulations of the internet and information flow – “normal” laws like the ones against murder and theft can stand. Then, I’d set up some serious infrastructure for connecting my kingdom to the internet.

So then things really get started. First, this will be a data haven in a bomb-proof bunker; no porn, but all information from all sources can be uploaded to the servers and freely accessed by anyone anywhere. This will be a free service, nobody will get paid for donations of information, and I will not be promoting the theft of documentation: but whenever someone feels that documentation (whether it’s a private company’s dirty accounting, or a CIA report on Pakistan) should be open to the world, this is where it’ll go.

Next, and more importantly, I’d set up a global micro-financing service, with two elements. First, I’d provide interest-free loans of up to $1 million to entrepreneurs, with preference given to everyone outside the “first world”. If the new enterprise fails, fine, I’ll suck up the loss. If a new business is successful, I’ll ask for a small sum, say maybe 0.5% of profits, for the first five years to help sustain the next part of the system even if my money for free loans should eventually run out. The second part is setting up a forum and match-making service for investors to meet entrepreneurs, worldwide. So, for example, if a Tajik wants to set up a carpet-exporting service, a retiree in Germany can send him a thousand bucks under whatever terms they can agree to. Again, I’ll be favouring the non-first world; perhaps by offering financing towards the creation of internet cafés and broadband infrastructure in the developing world. Banks who sit on their cash, instead of loaning it or investing it in job creation through small business, can suck it.

Finally, the Khan Academy need never look for, or pay for, internet hosting again; it’s on me. I’ll support a network of university professors – volunteers, or paid a very small contribution – worldwide to grade exams for a series of internet-based courses, for the purpose of providing opportunities for the underprivileged to get certifications or degrees – it’ll be something, even if it’ll have a lower standard than what they’d get at a “real” university or technical school.

That’s how I’d squander my fortune. What are your ideas?

Invest it and live off a small percentage of the proceeds. :p. That’s reaslly the most useful thing you could do with it, if you contribute a portion to charity, which I already do. That way the charity isn’t a one time thing but sustainable. I’d also set up some large X-Prize type contests for serious manned and unmanned explorations, maybe some other things like in battery technology and alternative fuels…and give a few bucks to the Rocket City Rednecks so they aren’t always risking their necks with their weekend stunts and can afford something more than just junkyard trash.

I figure if I invest $1 billion that would be a ridiculous amount for myself, my family and everything we need to live in the lifestyle I want to become accustomed to. The rest I’d set up as either annuities giving a summ to my favorite charities every year, investment vehicles for investing in new tech, and some big ass X-Prizes as I said.


I’d build a subway system here in Tel Aviv. The city really needs one, and besides, I like subways.

I’d fund schools in third world countries. I think education is the only long-term solution to poverty and the other problems in the third world.

I would do something similar but I would have different criteria.

Large trivial interest (like .5%) loans to existing US micro businesses to expand operations.

Priority to fund placing computer services at low cost to underserved communities. Something like a small town free/low cost clinic for computers.

I’d use a portion of it to set up an alternative free public school system for my county, including enough money invested to see that the schools stays open and funded well after my death. A school where class sizes are small, students have a variety of healthy choices for lunch, useful P.E. classes. (Yoga, various forms of martial arts, etc.) Instead of having different teachers each year, have the students have the same teachers from kindergarten through high school. A school where teachers actually get paid a decent salary, and have the supplies they need without paying out of pocket for it. Where the latest tech and techniques are used, and where creativity is encouraged.

I’d buy the trailer park I’m currently living in, and repair and update the trailers that can be fixed. The ones that couldn’t would be recycled, and new ones brought in. I’d invest some for an onsite laundry mat, and a playground for the kids. I’d then set the rent on a sliding scale and rent out to low income families, so they can have a decent place to live. I wouldn’t care about drawing a profit here, as long as it’s enough to cover damages, taxes, etc.

I’d donate a sizable chunk to the local food bank, enough so they could keep going for a good while. An even billion or so.

I’d set aside enough so my family could live a decent live style off the interest. However much is needed for say $60k to $70k a year in interest to live on.

Whatever’s left would be invested into the local economy, hopefully well enough to make my town and county thrive like it did back in the 50s and 60s.

I’d do this, but in the United States. For the same reasons.

I’d essentially become a full time philanthropist, carefully investing money in the right charities. Certainly CARE would get a regular stipend, but I’d also fund initiatives for Third World housing, education and nutrition, scholarships, emergency assitance and initiatives for the underprivileged here in Canada, and the like. No throwing $100 bills around; carefully managed philanthropy.

And I wouldn’t want any credit for it. I’d prefer to stay as anonymous as possible.

I used to have a dream that I saved the life of some rich Arab and in appreciation he gave me billions.

Having helped manage heavy construction projects before I settled down, I continued to dream of organizing the construction of a transportation corridor of constant grade through the Canadian Rockies, Columbia Mountains and the Coast Range connecting Calgary and Vancouver. This corridor would include a 4 lane high speed straight highway, 2 bullit train tracks and two regular rails, and a covered utilidor to encompass oil and gas pipelines as well electric transmission.

No tunnels, all cut and fill with enormous “culverts” in the river valleys overlayed with hundred of meters of fill. These culverts woud be large enough to facilitate transverse transportation including wildlife migration. At the higher levels I would build wildlife bridges.(I see that they started doing that on the Trans Canada).

To make a long story short, I would donate it all the Provincial government of British Columbia and they would exact tolls to provide a handsome income that would also help pay for a handsome legacy to my descendants and me forever and ever.

I’d discuss it with a finance expert to decide the amounts, but I’d put a certain amount into investments so that the money was self-sustaining (at least as much as possible), then I’d divide the rest into two programs: one to fund public art and one to fund mental health services to people who couldn’t afford it.

Well now that I know you would if you could, I can’t help but credit you with being as generous as possible.

I would open a small school for the arts - where gifted students audition to get accepted and then learn from the best in their fields.
I would also snap up many small apartment buildings and hire social workers to oversee the lives of the homeless teens that I would allow to live in those apartments for free until they finished high school (mandatory attendance at school to live there) and reached the age of 18.
Those kids would also be hired to work part time for senior citizens, helping with shopping and small tasks around the house. The kids would get paid for it, and the senior citizens would get some much needed assistance.

$50 million probably wouldn’t be enough to accomplish all of the above but I could make a start. I think helping at-risk kids that age would make a huge difference in their lives.

You’ve got $50 billion man, not $50 million.

I would endow a foundation with a mandate to expose corruption in high places; police, polititions and corporatists. The purpose would not be to bring charges, but to publicize their wrongdoing. The foundation would publish a periodical organ, both print & web-based detailing the results of their investigations. It would be staffed by investigative reporters and researchers backed up by security personell and undercover operatives, and a first-rate legal team to bail them out of trouble. Any and all means, legal and extra-legal would be used in investigation…clandestine filming, wiretaps, paid informants, computer hacking, hidden recording devices and entrapment. In short, all the things that those in authority use to their (often illicit) benefit but which are off-limits to the rest of us.

Imagine having access to the private conversations of corrupt cops, hard (if legally inadmissable) evidence of wrongdoing by corporate greedheads, the sex lives of dirty politicians!

It would be an exercise in constructive mayhem.

With $50 billion I would attempt to move a lot of overseas manufacturing back to the US. Put people back to work here, and screw any idea of a profit for a decade. With no stockholders or other investors looking for a quick payout, you could build and rebuild industries that will mean more to the US economy than a fast buck or three.

Then I would systematically ruin as many hedge fund managers and sell-outs CEOs as I could by whatever means possible.

Finally I would open a system of trade schools to provide actual useful education to those millions of kids for whom college is a waste. Let them get a free education in something they can make a living with.We need more plumbers, not more lawyers and English majors.

I would create a renewable energy source that is financially viable and if there was any money left over perfect a pumpkin/pistachio cheese cake recipe. OK, maybe cure cancer next, I dunno.

He’s planning on spending the first $49,950,000,000 on lap dances.

I like this plan.

I would work to get the UN’s Millennium Development Goals fully funded. My $50 gigabucks would not be enough by itself, but would go a long way to getting the developed world to contribute 0.7% of gross domestic income for 20 years to meet the goal. We can eliminate poverty in 20 years spending less than 1% GDI. WHY ARE WE NOT FUNDING THIS??!!?? A small tax just on people with net worth over $1 billion should take care of it. We could have heaven on Earth, and give the already wealthy 7 or 8 times the number of people who can afford their products. Total win-win.

If that doesn’t clean me out, I’d fund studies of the flu. If we knew exactly where it came from, why and how it changes every year, how to really stop it, etc., we could save a lot of lives.

I’d give most of it away to worthy causes, that would be half the fun!

The Heifer Project and Doctors Without Borders would be two. With regard to the latter, it’s just heartbreaking to see folks who can’t get treatment because there is no nearby doctor or clinic.

My church needs a bigger place for group gatherings.

The medical clinic here in town run by the Sisters of Charity. And the humane society and the no-kill cat shelter.

Schools here in town have had to slash their budgets for things like music programs. Well, now they wouldn’t have to worry.

The nursing home that takes care of my grandmother is a really good place. I wish everyone could afford a place there if they needed it. I could set up a “scholarship plan” or something to pay for folks who have no family, or can’t afford it.

Endow a nursing scholarship named for my mother.

Build a new dojo for my karate instructor.

And so on.