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'The Nation' blogger -- fatcat Simonyi should give us poor folks his money



 
 
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  #1  
Old April 8th 07, 06:10 PM posted to sci.space.station,sci.space.policy
Jim Oberg
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Posts: 434
Default 'The Nation' blogger -- fatcat Simonyi should give us poor folks his money





BLOG | Posted 04/07/2007 @ 6:09pm

Pigs in Space
Richard Kim

http://www.thenation.com/blogs/notion?bid=15&pid=183428

Is there a more perfect symbol of the excesses of global capitalism
than Charles Simonyi's 13-day joyride into outer space? Simonyi, a
Hungarian-American software programmer who made his fortune at Xerox and
Microsoft before launching his own start-up, paid $20 million to be escorted
to the Kazakh steppes, packed into a Russian Soyuz rocket and blasted
towards the international space station. En route, he'll enjoy a meal of
roasted quail, duck breast confit with capers, shredded chicken parmentier
and rice pudding with candied fruit -- all carefully selected by his
girlfriend, Martha Stewart. (Martha, whatever happened to astronaut ice
cream and Tang?) No word yet on the threadcount of his sheets or if there's
24-hour concierge service in orbit.

The whole saga is Dickens for the new millennium, but without the
other half. So it's up to us scolds at The Nation to point out the obvious.
Simonyi might have spent his money fighting AIDS, or building housing for
Hurricane Katrina survivors, or providing clean water to developing nations,
or mosquito netting and medicine for malaria patients, or musical
instruments for needy, photogenic, musically-gifted inner city school
children or...well, depressingly, the list goes on and on. But picking on
the follies of the rich is easy, and in this case, not particularly fun.
Just think of the carbon footprint a Soyuz rocket leaves!

But the next time the bards of capitalism sing the praises of Warren
Buffett, Bill Gates and the outstanding generosity of the mega-rich in the
age of extreme wealth (and extreme poverty), I'll trot out Charles Simonyi's
space odyssey as counter-example.

Indeed, Simonyi's spending habits are a window into how the world's
wealthiest citizens consume and contribute. Worth about $1 billion,
Simonyi's no Scrooge McDuck. He's endowed a chair at Oxford and funded the
Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton. In 2003, Simonyi finished 23rd in
the Slate 60, the annual ranking of largest American charitable
contributions, when he gave $47 million to start the Charles Simonyi Fund
for Arts and Sciences. But for each act of noblesse oblige, there's an
extravagance. In Simonyi's case, not only is he the 5th space tourist ever,
he also owns the world's 39th largest yacht, which is so big that one could,
as Power and Motoryacht Magazine tell us, "easily mistake her for a military
vessel."

Simonyi's 2003 donation represents less than 5 percent of his net
worth. According to Gregg Easterbrook's survey of billionaire philanthropy,
this puts Simonyi well behind Buffett, who donated the vast majority of his
fortune, and Bill Gates, who's given away about 1/3 of his. But Simonyi
fares better in comparison to most billionaires, who on average contribute
slightly more than 1 percent of their net worth. As Easterbrook points out,
that rate is only marginally better than Americans as a whole, who annually
give away about 0.5 percent of their net worth. And it pales in comparison
to the 78 percent that Andrew Carnegie gave away in his lifetime.

As the philosopher Peter Singer pointed out in an article for the New
York Times, if the rich and superrich gave away at morally responsible and
entirely reasonable rates (say, 33 percent of earnings for those in the top
..01 percent and sliding downward), wealthy Americans could generate $808
billion annually for global development -- six times more than what the UN
estimates it needs to meet its Millennium Development Goals and 16 times
more than the shortfall between what's needed and what donor nations
currently contribute.

But that might mean giving up duck confit in outer space.





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  #2  
Old April 9th 07, 12:06 AM posted to sci.space.station,sci.space.policy
Greg D. Moore \(Strider\)
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Posts: 2,865
Default 'The Nation' blogger -- fatcat Simonyi should give us poor folks his money

"Gene Cash" wrote in message
...
"Jim Oberg" writes:

BLOG | Posted 04/07/2007 @ 6:09pm

Pigs in Space
Richard Kim

http://www.thenation.com/blogs/notion?bid=15&pid=183428

Is there a more perfect symbol of the excesses of global capitalism
than Charles Simonyi's 13-day joyride into outer space? Simonyi, a
Hungarian-American software programmer who made his fortune at Xerox and
Microsoft before launching his own start-up, paid $20 million to be
escorted
to the Kazakh steppes, packed into a Russian Soyuz rocket and blasted
towards the international space station. En route, he'll enjoy a meal of
roasted quail, duck breast confit with capers, shredded chicken
parmentier
and rice pudding with candied fruit -- all carefully selected by his
girlfriend, Martha Stewart. (Martha, whatever happened to astronaut ice
cream and Tang?) No word yet on the threadcount of his sheets or if
there's
24-hour concierge service in orbit.


Yeah, and Kim can suck it too.

I think I detect a faint odor of hypocrisy and "*I* don't have any
money, so I'm reduced to telling you how to spend yours". I think if
Mr. Kim had a billion dollars he sure wouldn't be skipping out on his
Rolls-Royce and his big house.


Gotta, agree, definitely sounds like a case of sour grapes.

And I love how he trots out what is as far as I can tell a purely arbitrary
number of "33% of earnings") as morally responsible. Umm.. why? Why not
50%? Or 5%?

Yeah, it would be nice if perhaps Simonyi contributed more (but hey the
article already lists a number of ways he is) but I'm not too bothered by
it.



These are the sorts of whiners that always appear when you talk about
any big project and *always* propose to spend that money on the poor.

Can you get ANY more cliche than that?

As a matter of fact, Simonyi *is* helping the poor. That money goes
straight to the Russian space industry, which right now is about as
poor as it gets without being a wino in the gutter.

That's far better than feeding the idiots and druggies wandering the
streets here in Orlando.

-gc

--
Our main goal for a long time was to make it more dangerous to be in the
target area than to be part of the test crew. -- Wernher von Braun


--
Greg Moore
SQL Server DBA Consulting Remote and Onsite available!
Email: sql (at) greenms.com http://www.greenms.com/sqlserver.html


  #3  
Old April 9th 07, 02:40 AM posted to sci.space.station,sci.space.policy
Fred J. McCall
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Posts: 5,736
Default 'The Nation' blogger -- fatcat Simonyi should give us poor folks his money

"Greg D. Moore \(Strider\)" wrote:

: "Jim Oberg" writes:
:
: BLOG | Posted 04/07/2007 @ 6:09pm
:
: Pigs in Space
: Richard Kim
:
: http://www.thenation.com/blogs/notion?bid=15&pid=183428
:
:
:And I love how he trots out what is as far as I can tell a purely arbitrary
:number of "33% of earnings") as morally responsible. Umm.. why? Why not
:50%? Or 5%?

What percentage does Richard Kim give?

Someone should ask him.

--
"If you grab them by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow."
-- Chuck Colson
 




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