If You Were the World’s Top Billionaire, What Would You Do?

carlosForbes Magazine, which cares deeply about such things, has decided that the world’s richest man is not Bill Gates or Warren Buffet but a pudgy Mexican named Carlos Slim Helu (photo at right).

You might look at Carlos and wonder what it would be like to have $53.5 billion. You might think about buying a BMW – or to heck with it, why not a Rolls Royce?

And how about that mansion on the ocean you’ve always wanted?

My thoughts today are somewhat different. No, I am not going to get on my soapbox and preach about those starving children in Haiti, Darfur or Rwanda. Or even those starving children in Mexico. I am sure Carlos gives them a thought now and then, as we all would in his place. He probably set up some kind of charitable thing to salve his conscience and ease his tax burden.

I am going to indulge a few selfish thoughts instead.

As I run my hands through what’s left of my hair, I think about those ads for Rogaine and the Hair Club. With all his billions, Carlos doesn’t have much insulation up there, either. Don’t those miracle products and procedures work? Surely, Carlos would have given them a try by now? And what about those weight loss wonders that make the models on TV shrink several sizes in 30 seconds? Wouldn’t you be gulping those things down if you were Carlos? I bet some of you would even have a personal trainer housed over the garage.

Looking at his photo, I doubt that Carlos enjoys robust health. I am doing OK for my age but that’s not saying much. The kidneys are acting up. And there’s that pesky diabetes thing. With all of Carlos’s billions, I would still be restricted to 3 ounces of protein a day, and I would still be under the doctor’s orders to “not even look at sugar.”

What’s the use of having billions when you can’t eat (and drink!) what you want?

History abounds in tales of the ills that afflict the rich and powerful. Louis XIV of France, “the Sun King,” reportedly had terrible breath. His valet occasionally pulled off a toe when he changed the monarch’s socks. Napoleon suffered from hemorrhoids. Some rulers bled at the slightest touch; others were tormented by sexually transmitted diseases…

I am sure today’s monarchs of business and industry suffer from various ailments – the ills to which flesh is heir, as the Bible warns.

And with every day the rich and famous grow a little older.

I don’t have to remind you that time takes its toll. Not all the king’s horses or all the king’s men can put their sagging bodies and wrinkled faces together again. Not Oil of Olay, not those outrageously expensive creams and even more expensive spas, not repeated face lifts, not liposuction… The marvels of modern science are almost useless against the ravages of time.

They say money can’t buy happiness, and they could be wrong about that. But I know this for sure: Money can’t buy your youth back. So, if you ever find yourself on Forbes’ list of the world’s richest people, you might as well consider giving away your ill-gotten gains – most of it, anyway. You might want to keep enough to buy the Rolls and that mansion on the ocean.

For the Forbes survey, click:

www.forbes.com/2010/03/10/worlds-richest-people-slim-gates-buffett-billionaires-2010_land.html?boxes=Homepagetopspecialreports

gwgraeme

I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for Jamaicans.com

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