Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Thinking about very big yachts

A Russian billionaire just unveiled his $1,500,000,000 yacht. 1.5 Billion dollars*. Let me get a couple of caveats out of the way:

* I'm fairly sure that many of you just read that with a "Dr. Evil" intonation. 

  1. He has every right to do this - it's his money. I'm not about to suggest that someone should have forced him to NOT buy this.
  2. I am, arguably, about to throw stones from a glass house. Anyone who spends more than they absolutely need to in order to live is, at least theoretically, open to the criticism that they should be doing something more valuable, more meaningful, more helpful, with their money. I get that.

But, what if this billionaire bought a very nice half-billion dollar boat, and gave the rest to some very good charities? He'd still have a very nice boat, and his money would now being making some very, very sad people a little (or a lot!) less sad.

And, yes, I also, of course, understand that maybe he did - maybe he wanted a 2.5 billion dollar boat, but built this one and gave 1 billion to charity. And, I know that if he built a half-billion dollar boat, I (or someone like me) would be making the exact same argument, just with slightly smaller numbers.

I get all of that.

But, I also get, deep down, that we live in a world where millions (billions, maybe) go to bed every night cold and hungry. Or die of easily preventable diseases. Or (fill in the blank). And, even though there's no clear line (and lots of potential for hypocrisy), at some point spending money crosses over into unconscionable.

There was a time when seeing a 1.5 Billion Dollar Boat would have made be jealous. Now? It just makes me kind of sad. I'm going to make a donation somewhere today. It won't be huge, but at least it will be a positive reaction to this news story.

If you've got a little, give a little. If you've got a lot, give a lot.

1 comment:

Robert Tobin said...

This is his 3rd boat.... 1 billion combined for the other two.... so he has 2.5 billion tied up in vessels.

Hoi money? He's a Russian oligarch.... he has the public's money.