My Advice for Mr. Buffett
A boat for everyone and a biscuit for every dog -- what you can do with all that money.
(FORTUNE Magazine) -- 1 I think the first thing he should do, he should buy everybody a boat. Everybody who wants one, anyhow. Commodore Vanderbilt said that if you have to ask how much a yacht costs, you can't afford one. If you get a boat free, you don't have to ask! Total cost: $1.1 trillion; down payment $1.67 billion, representing a monthly payment of $350 million over 120 years.
2 Next, many animals have problems because the world is no longer hospitable to them. Species in danger include sperm whales, cheetahs, and liberal Republicans. So many could be saved. Total cost: $158 billion, amortized over a 50-year term.
3 Every dog in our great nation could use a biscuit every day. Some don't get one, while others do. That seems unfair. Total cost: $1.4 million per year. Optional investment in catnip: $956K.
4 It is clear that our electoral system is badly out of whack and that Congress cannot implement sane campaign-reform legislation. That would be ameliorated if political contributions were outlawed in favor of a central fund established by Berkshire Hathaway. Total cost: $7.5 billion should do it, monies to be distributed at Mr. Buffett's discretion.
5 At the same time Washington in its infinite wisdom has cut funding for Homeland Security, probably because of the high cost of maintaining the war for democracy elsewhere. It's unfortunate that our government is so strapped in this area. It's hard not to feel a certain empathy. Some heavy bank leverage would be necessary if private enterprise were to take up the slack here, as it is moving to do in so many other areas. Total cost: around $6 trillion, with no money down and no payments till next January.
6 And what about gas prices? Until the big oil companies are forced to recycle some of their windfall profits back to the consumers on whom they are feasting, somebody has to step in. Total cost on a base of 100 million drivers: $2.5 billion. Check my math. It may be more.
7 It might surprise you that there are hungry people here in the U.S. as well as in Africa. You can't improve this situation simply by buying everybody who wants one a microwaveable dinner, since some families don't even have microwaves. That can be rectified with the purchase of microwaves for everyone who doesn't yet have one. Total cost: $1.23 billion, not counting rebates.
8 Some 500,000 illegal immigrants come here every year from south of our border. One solution to that problem would be to purchase everything south of the border. Total cost: $19.45 billion. Some assistance from other billionanthropists might be necessary, but that should be no problem. There are so many of these guys! And their hearts are so in the right place!
9 The number of Americans without health insurance rose to 45.8 million in 2004. That is really terrible. As bad as your health insurance probably is, I'm sure it's better than none, unless you're with my former HMO, which nearly killed me, but that's another story. Total cost of basic health care for all citizens: really hard to say. A lot. But since none of these fellows believe in inherited wealth, they may be able to swing it.
10 We need new prisons. Overcrowding is terrible. Local, state, and federal authorities can't seem to do much. Can't we have some money for those too? Cost: a couple of billion? Come on! You don't want those losers running around free, do you?
11 And hey--real estate values are way out of kilter around the U.S. Couldn't we use some money to equalize values between, like, Pittsburgh and Chicago? Why should a co-op in Manhattan cost as much as all of downtown Toledo? How much money would it take to even things out? Wouldn't that be nice?
12 And how about the budget deficit? President Bush was recently crowing because it's "only" $296 billion. That probably doesn't sound like a lot to our generous friends. Think of how great it would be if they would just take care of it. No more deficit! I have no idea what that would mean, but it's got to be good, right?
13 And what about global warming? Our government doesn't even admit it exists. Maybe Mr. Buffett could spring for DVDs of Al Gore's movie for White House staff. We might be in time to save Florida.
14 And how about outer space? Why aren't we on Mars yet? What happened? Who dropped the ball? Can't private money fix that too? Why not? How much? When?
15 And finally, let's get all these generous individuals together to employ whatever resources they have to make sure we keep our government small and cut taxes, especially for those of us who need to build up a huge amount of money ... so we can, you know, give it all away later. Honest we will! Total cost: Whatever it takes, baby. Our nation's future is at stake.