Tag Archives: wealth

The Gates to New Life

VANCOUVER – Bill and Melinda Gates, the richest couple in the world, long ago decided to devote the bulk of their wealth to charitable causes, reducing child poverty and illness in the developing world, and improving education in the United States.

But in a candid interview with Chris Anderson, the curator of the TED conference in Vancouver, they acknowledged their great wealth hasn’t saved them from making costly mistakes.

They cited two examples Tuesday night in a TED talk that was broadcast live, saying the mistakes have served to help them realize their charitable goals need to be better researched and activated.

The evening talk was one of the highlights of the week-long TED event, a popular worldwide conference of thinkers and doers which is making its debut in Vancouver on its 30th anniversary.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation spends $1 billion a year on improving access to education, and developed a model for small, intimate school settings. But Melinda Gates said that hasn’t always worked.

“I would say is that an early lesson out of this was that we thought these small schools were the answer,” she said. “Small schools definitely help. They bring down the dropout rate, they have less violence and crime.

“But the thing that we learned, and what turned out to be the fundamental key is a great teacher in front of the classroom,” she continued. “If you don’t have an effective teacher in the front of the classroom, I don’t care how big or small that school is. You are not going to change the trajectory of whether that school will be ready for college.”

Bill Gates said he wasted more than $60 million on a dream to eradicate Leishmaniasis in India, a potentially fatal disease that is transmitted by sand flies.

“We were very naive about a drug for a disease in India called Leishmaniasis. I thought once we got this drug we could just go wipe out this disease,” he said.

“Well, it turns out it took an injection every day for 10 days, and it took three more years to get it, and then there was no way it was going to get out there. You can say we wasted five years and about $60 million on a path that had very modest benefits when we got there.”

Melinda Gates also talked about the personal wrestle she had as a Roman Catholic over her decision to help fund contraceptives for women in developing countries.

Condoms may be useful for stopping transmittable diseases, but women can’t convince their husbands to use them for planning families, she said.

“Women will tell you I can’t negotiate condoms with my husband. I am either suggesting he has AIDS or I have AIDS,” she said.

“We have backed away from contraceptives as a global community. We knew that 210 million women were saying they wanted access to contraceptives. And we weren’t providing them because of the political controversy in our country,” Melinda Gates said.

“And to me, that was just a crime. I kept looking around trying to find the person who would get this back on the global stage and I finally realized I had to do it. And even though I am Catholic I believe in contraceptives, just like the majority of Catholic women in the United States who report using contraceptives, and I shouldn’t let that controversy be the thing that holds us back.”

As a result, she was able to raise $2.6 billion to help provide contraceptives for women in developing nations.

The Gateses have pledged to donate 95 per cent of their wealth to their foundation. In 2006 their friend Warren Buffett, the fourth-richest person in the world, pledged 80 per cent of his wealth to the foundation.

The two philanthropic contributions helped spark the Giving Pledge campaign, a program the Gateses and Buffett have developed to convince other wealthy people to donate large portions of their assets. Bill Gates said that so far about 120 people have made that pledge.

The Gateses said they were stunned when Buffett came to them and offered his money.

“He was going to have his wife Susie give it all away. Tragically she passed away before he did. And he’s big on delegation,” said Bill Gates.

“If he’s got somebody who’s doing something well and is willing to do something at no charge, maybe that’s okay,” he said to laughs from the audience.

“We were stunned; we had never expected it. It has allowed us to increase our ambition and what the foundation can do quite dramatically. I mean half the resources we have come from Warren’s mind-blowing generosity.”

The Gateses also answered a question many in the audience wanted to know; would their three children become instant billionaires by inheritance?

“No they won’t have anything like that,” Bill Gates said. “They need to have a sense that their own work is meaningful and important.”


© Copyright (c) Vancouver Sun

Leave a comment

Filed under The Ramblings of a Reformed Ecclesiastic

Satire that’s not – from Freewood Post


Religious Right Furious Pope Francis Wants Them To Follow The Bible
Written by: Sarah Wood

Many on the religious right are livid that Pope Francis would have the audacity to want people to live up to the actual teachings of the Bible which fully negates their agenda of sweeping the poor under the rug and rewarding the already obscenely wealthy.

“How dare he say trickle-down economics doesn’t work!” said Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX). “The beloved Ronald Reagan, who was far more religious than any Pope said if we keep giving the wealthy more money, everyone will have more money. We just need to wait a little bit longer to see it work!”

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), devout Catholic, said of the Pontiff, “He is obviously reading from the wrong part of the book. Wealth and greed are beautiful Biblical concepts that go back even further than Jesus.”

“I just don’t diddly understand why therefore and more what this here supposed religious leader-type thingy thinks he’s up to,” said Sarah Palin.

Many in the religious right are denouncing the anti-capitalist remarks of Pope Francis. They don’t want any sort of actual religious facts and teachings to derail their attempt at creating a feudal society.

Comments Off on Satire that’s not – from Freewood Post

Filed under The Ramblings of a Reformed Ecclesiastic

The Rich Man

Scripture Reference: Luke 16 verses 1-13

The basic point is this: Christ is saying, with dry humour, if only the Christian was as eager and ingenious in his attempt to attain goodness as the men of the world are in their attempts to attain money and comfort.

In other words, Jesus wants us to act with the same intensity in our discipleship toward him as the rascals, cheats, and crooks act in their attempt to gain comfort and wealth.

There was once a wealthy Highland landowner. He was more than richly endowed with this world’s goods and had a stately mansion overlooking a beautiful glen. He was a hard-headed businessman, and had a tendency to cut corners to achieve his ends – even if that included trampling over other people.  In his life, he was number ONE, and everybody else, including his tenants and employees came far down his list of priorities.

But there was a basic emptiness in his life. He had no religious belief, he lived alone, possessed by his possessions and his desire to get wealthier and wealthier

In the gate house at the entrance to his estate lived John his farm manager. John was a man of simple faith and deep religious commitment. With his family he was a regular churchgoer, and often in the evening when John opened the gate to admit the laird, his employer habitually would see out of the corner of his eye noticed John’s family on their knees in prayer. This sight never ceased to amuse him.

One morning the laird was looking out on the valley resplendent in the rising sun. As he gazed on the beautiful scene he was saying to himself, ‘It is all mine’ when he heard the doorbell ringing. Going down he found John on the doorstep. ‘What’s the matter John?’ he asked, ‘are the horses all right?’

John looked embarrassed. ‘Aye sir,’ he replied. ‘Sir, could I have a word with you?’ He was invited in on to plush carpet, a striking contrast between their life-styles.

‘Sir,’ said John hesitantly, ‘last night I had a dream, and in it the Lord told me that the richest man in the glen would die tonight at midnight. I felt I should tell you. I just had to come to you, sir, as I felt you should know’.

The laird dismissed him, but John’s words kept bothering him, so much so that he took out his car and went to the local doctor for a complete check-up. The GP examined him, pronounced him fit as a fiddle and said he would give him another twenty years.

The laird was relived but a lingering doubt caused him to invite the doctor around for dinner and a few drinks that evening. They enjoyed a sumptuous meal together and shortly after 11.30 the doctor got up to leave but the laird prevailed on him to remain on for a few nightcaps.

Eventually when midnight passed and he was still in the land of the living he saw the doctor to the door and then went up the stairs muttering, ‘Stupid old John…upset my whole day… him and his blasted dreams!’

No sooner was he in bed when he heard the doorbell ringing. It was half past midnight.

Going down he found a grief-stricken girl at the door whom he recognised instantly as John’s teenage daughter.

‘Sir,’ she said, looking at him through her tears, ‘Ma sent me to tell you that Dad died at midnight.’

The laird froze as it was suddenly made clear to him who was the richest man in the valley.

Leave a comment

Filed under The Ramblings of a Reformed Ecclesiastic

On Riches

The story is told of a man named Yussif the Choker, a 350-pound European wrestling champion of a couple of generations ago. 350 pounds is about 25 stones, or 158 kilograms

After he won the European championship, he sailed to the USA to wrestle the American champion, whose name was Strangler Lewis–a little chap by comparison – almost sylph- like at 90 kilos or 200 pounds – about 14 and a quarter stone in weight.

Although he wasn’t very big, Strangler had a simple plan for defeating his opponents, and it never failed to work. He would put his massive arm around the neck of his opponent and cut off the oxygen. Many an opponent had passed out in the ring with Strangler Lewis.

The problem when he fought Yussif the Choker was that Yussif didn’t have a neck. His body went from his head to his massive shoulders. Lewis could never get his hold and it wasn’t long that the Choker flipped Lewis to the mat and pinned him down.

After winning the championship, the Choker demanded all five thousand dollars in gold. After he wrapped the championship belt around his vast waist, he stuffed the gold into the belt and boarded the next ship back to Europe. He was a success! He had captured America’s glory and her gold!

He set sail on the SS Bourgogne. Halfway across the Atlantic, a storm struck and the ship began to sink. Yussif went over the side with his gold still strapped around his body. The added weight was too much for the Choker and he sank like an anvil before they could get him into a lifeboat. He was never seen again.

How often do we put ourselves and our soul in danger for the wealth of this world? And after we get the wealth, most times, we find that isn’t what we really wanted at all. We seem to fail to realise that wealth is not as important as contentment which is God’s gift.

Even if we are not wealthy, we can have attachments that pull at us. If what we really want is eternal life, we have to determine what might be tugging us in another direction. At that point, something has to give. Will we walk away sad?

St Brigid was an Irish nun born in the fifth century, converted by St Patrick. Brigid was the daughter of a wealthy Irish chieftain. After she was converted her father was horrified to discover Brigid was giving his stores away to beggars.

Unable to control her generosity one day he threw Brigid into his chariot and took her to the King of Leinster to sell her to him as a slave. When he arrived at the King’s enclosure Brigid’s father followed the custom of approaching the king unarmed. He unbuckled his sword and left it with Brigid in the chariot. Not a good move, for when a leper approached the chariot seeking help Brigid gave him the only thing of worth she could find – her father’s sword.

The King of Leinster asked to see Brigid before buying her as a slave. He and Brigid’s father came out to the chariot, whereupon Brigid’s father discovered his sword was gone. He flew into a rage and started beating his daughter. The king commanded him to stop and asked Brigid why she kept stealing her father’s property to give it away.

“If I had the power” replied Brigid, “I would steal all your royal wealth and give it to Christ’s brothers and sisters.” The King of Leinster there and then declined her fathers offer to sell her as a slave.

Some time after Brigid escaped from her father and established her famous monastery, a monastery that became famous for its hospitality. This is the grace said before meals that has come down to us from that monastery.

I should like a great lake of the finest ale

For the King of Kings.

I should like a table of the choicest food

For the family of heaven.

Let the ale be made from the fruits of faith,

And the food be forgiving love.

I should welcome the poor to my feast,

For they are God’s children.

I should welcome the sick to my feast,

For they are God’s joy.

Let the poor be with Jesus at the highest place,

And the sick dance with angels.

God bless the poor,

God bless the sick,

And bless our human race.

God bless our food,

God bless our drink,

All homes, O God, embrace.

Leave a comment

Filed under The Ramblings of a Reformed Ecclesiastic

Samuel Colgate

Sam Colgate, a young American lad, was only sixteen years old when he left home to seek his fortune.

He had not got very far when he met an old canal boat captain who asked him where he was going.

Sam replied that he was off to New York to find work, although the only work he had ever done in his hometown was making candles and soap.

Well, the old captain and Sam chatted away for quite a while, and before Sam left on his journey, the old man suggested that they pray together.  The older man asked God to take care of the boy on his travels and particularly when he reached the big city.

Then the captain said, “Somebody will soon be the leading soap-maker in New York.  It could be you, Samuel, as well as anyone.”

Then he said a strange thing – “Remember to give to the Lord all that belongs to him of every dollar you earn.”

The Captain’s closing words to Sam were these “Make an honest soap and give a full pound and I am certain that you will be a rich man one day”

Sam arrived safely in New York City and found that work wasn’t easy to get, but he joined the Church, and remembering the old captain’s words he gave 10 cents of the first dollar he earned to God’s work.

Eventually he got regular employment and later became a partner in a firm.  Some years after that he became the owner of the business which grew and prospered.

At first he gave a tenth of his wages to God’s work, then later a fifth, followed by three tenths and then two fifths.  Eventually, he was giving half his income away – and still his business prospered.

When he had educated his family and settled his life’s plans, he gave all his income away.

After his death, it was estimated that Samuel Colgate had given a million dollars to the poor and needy during his lifetime.

Samuel Colgate made a fortune.  He gave away a fortune.  In many respects, he made another kind of fortune of a different kind.

Unselfish giving begins with God himself and in a peculiar way, the more we give away because of our love of him, the more we gain.

Perhaps the next time you use a tube of Sam Colgate’s toothpaste or a bar of his soap, you may just remember the boy who used God’s gifts as a trust and gave them back in loving and selfless service to others less fortunate than himself.  And in doing so, assuredly, gained ‘riches in heaven’



Leave a comment

Filed under The Ramblings of a Reformed Ecclesiastic



Leave a comment

Filed under The Ramblings of a Reformed Ecclesiastic