Mark Zuckerberg, the young genius who founded Facebook, just announced he and his wife plan to give away 99% of their wealth in their lifetime. Their generous pledge follows what 137 other billionaires like Warren Buffett and Bill Gates did – commit to give away at least half of their fortunes. So how will he share what currently amounts to some $45 billion dollars? May I suggest he look no further than the world of books?
Let’s just see what that money could buy:
· Free books to the impoverished
· Literacy instruction to those lacking education
· Help for the visually-impaired or those with learning disorders
· Support for independent bookstores
· Protection of the First Amendment
· More materials for public libraries
· Preserving book archives and rare collections
· Digital reading devices for schools
· Grants to authors and school scholarships to writers
Yes, Santa Zuckerberg, this Chanukah there’s a growing wish list for your money. As much as $45B is a lot of money, we know it can’t address every issue out there. In fact, $45 billion buys what America spends in 11 days – with its annual federal budget of 1.6 trillion dollars.
In theory, a portion of that $45 billion – perhaps half – would have gone to Uncle Sam anyway – so it’s not like he’s giving America $45 billion that it wouldn’t have had some of anyway. But it’s a phenomenal gesture of unrivaled generosity. He’ll begin giving it away decades earlier than others in his position have and he’ll have a chance to steer it in the direction he desires. I hope he turns a billion or two onto books and related areas.
The world needs help and money also must help the homeless, the hungry, the poor, the elderly and a zillion other causes. But books are worth a nice fat check!
Truthfully, it is hard to rank where to spend the money. Do you put it all to saving lives or do you invest in enhancing lives? Do we invest in nature and animals – or only humans? Do we help older people or young people? What is the fair thing to do – and what will have good ROI?
We don’t live in a bubble. We can’t just say fund this and not that, but decisions have to be made and priorities set. I believe supporting the cultural arts, writers, and the book industry are just as important as anything else. Why worry about making people healthier or having them to live longer if the quality of life – such as the enjoyment of writing and reading books – is not there? On the other hand, wouldn’t we pay to save a life and lose some books or libraries in the process?
I can say this, a few billion dollars, if spent properly, can make a big difference in millions of reading lives. Zuckerberg, if you ever need a hand in doling out the dough, give me a call!
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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at email@example.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2015
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