Thursday, March 1, 2007

The Love of Money

Austan Goolsbee says the rich are motivated by a mysterious desire to accumulate wealth. After all they don't seem to be giving it away fast enough and its too much for their heirs to spend.

I find this strange for two reasons:

1) Don't most charitable donations come as bequests. You can typically give more to charity by waiting till you're dead than giving it when you are alive.

2) Isn't the reason most billionares have so much money is that money is the side effect of something else they want to do.

I doubt Bill Gates is in it for the money or really cares about money per se. He seems to care about dominating the market for enterprise software.
You need money to do this, and when you do it well you make money. However, if his fortune was forever tied up in the capital of Microsoft I am not sure that he would have cared one way or another.

Now of course, he is on a new mission to destroy malaria and ignorance and you need money to do that to. So, he has to take money out of Microsoft to accomplish those goals.

Seriously though, I doubt that many successful men really care about money per se. They might care about the fact that women are attracted to money.

However, mainly they care about being successful at whatever they do. Very few people get rich playing golf and I don't know of any who got rich playing raquetball but you are crazy to think that guys don't burn hours trying to master these worlds as well.

Hat tip to Mankiw