1928 - Alderson High School - 1968



Billionaire: One who owns a billion of money. USA - a thousand million, written 1,000,000,000; called a milliard in Great Britain.
Dan Duff

Forbes Magazine just published their latest list of the richest people in the country and a few surprises caught my eye. First I was surprised that my name did not appear and second I did not see any one I knew on the list. Since everyone in the world is supposed to be separated by only six degrees I can only assume that I am way out of the norm or some of my friends are keeping things from me. There are three hundred and thirteen of these super rich guys out there and it seems like there ought to be one that I could put the tap on for a few hundred thou.

Don’t get me wrong. I had a pretty good idea that my name would not appear on that list. For one thing, billionaires do not get late notices in their mail box around the tenth of the month. And I am sure at least one credit card company sends them a “come join us proposal” every once in a while. Or do they?

It might take you back a bit to know that while I don’t know any billionaires I have known some genuine millionaires in my time. One fellow I know was a millionaire several times. He would make a bad investment and go broke, then start all over and make another million. They say that Donald Trump is like that. I myself never had the moxie it takes to be a millionaire. I want things to go as smooth as possible without anyone getting mad or going broke while doing business with me.  

People who make a lot of money tend to be people who are willing to step out and take the chance on winning or losing their whole fortune on one roll of the dice. Some make it by breaking a lot of other people while making a lot for themselves. I could never do that, because I enjoy sleeping. To do a lot of the things people do to make money takes a fellow who can have a restful night even after rolling several people into the poor house. 

But, enough of the lighter side of being a billionaire. Lets say you have made your billions. In the case of Bill Gates forty eight billion. By the time I get this piece to the prospective publishers, he will probably have made a couple more. What in the world do you do with forty eight billion dollars? If he has that much, and he has paid uncle Sam his share, how much did he make before taxes? I tell you it staggers the mind. If I had that money I could stop going by the sales lot down at the entrance of the Interstate looking at pre-manufactured homes. It would be a set back in the relationship of my family not to get to come around and help take the wheels off, but that's life when you are a billionaire. In fact I would probably try to find a place where it would be very difficult for my relatives to come around at all. 

I think I could stop thinking of a corner lot in the subdivision and start thinking about “a compound”. Build it on about thirty acres and nestled back in the trees where no one even with a helicopter could get a good look at what is going on around the pool. There would be security of course, with cameras and attack dogs. The stretch limo would have darkened windows so no one could see who is in the car. The driver would have one of those black suits complete with hat. I could bar-b-que every day if I wanted. After all I would be able to afford my own chef. He would do all the shopping and for once in my life it wouldn’t matter if I didn’t buy the house brand. House guest to read like a who’s who in the business world. People wanting to invest in my projects or wanting me to invest in one of theirs. That would only happen if I was not off on some cruise or extended vacation. That would be on my private yacht. I understand you can get one built the way you want it for somewhere around five hundred million. You have to have your own yacht, because even if you book the largest suite on the cruise ship, you cannot go out on deck. You have to take all your meals in your room and the only time you see the sun is when you sneak out on your private balcony. 

Now for the bad news. If you are a billionaire, you can no longer go down to the McDonalds for coffee and a sausage biscuit in the morning. For some reason they frown on extra long cars blocking the parking lot for twenty five or thirty minutes.

Since everyone knows who you are, you have to rent the bowling alley after it closes and only you and your closest friends get to join in. If you tried to go during regular hours you would disrupt the whole place and surely some one is going to try to put the bite on you for some of that dough. 

You cannot grant interviews because anything you say and I mean everything you say will be taken as gospel and a lot of people will lose money because they didn’t hear you or the interviewer mis-quoted you or took it out of context just to make their story look better. Then the press will say you did what you did on purpose and they will make you an enemy of the people. But that is what you are as soon as someone finds out you have all that money and you did not share it with them. 

As for me I am glad I am not a billionaire. However I do wish to let you know that I have a ticket for tonight’s drawing for lotto. It is worth five million and if I win it I will do my best not to change from who I am. I really won’t you know. By the time I have paid off all my bills, both past due and current, then pay uncle Sam his due, I should just about break even. Tomorrow I will still be able to drop by McDonalds for a sausage biscuit and the teenager at the window will still be acting like this is the last place on earth they want to be.