Is Bill Gates Really Batman?

It was Jon Stewart that first made the reference. He called Bill Gates “Batman” to his face on his TV show. Why Batman?

I think he probably meant Bruce Wayne, Batman’s civilian identity: the eccentric millionaire industrialist, who is also a philanthropist, sworn to do good and serve a greater ideal of justice. Of course, the big-hearted Mr. Wayne dons his cape and mask to perform his good deeds as Batman, supported by his lavish budget and high tech tools that he himself has created for the purpose.

Is this perhaps a new vision of an “Action Hero,” where the very idea of action is transformed from the mastery of  violence that is currently glorified in comic books and video games to a new type of technologically informed social and political action marked by non-violence and compassion?

This is a bit far fetched perhaps, but a lighthearted piece in Frugal Dad takes the idea out for a spin, suggesting that perhaps Bill Gates is better than a real world Batman, despite the fact that Batman locks up all those bad guys. The piece has a great infographic and is definitely worth checking out.

So what exactly has Bill gates done to deserve to be considered such a hero besides making a ton of money?

Well, for starters, he’s already given close to half (48%) of that money, some $28 billion away. But he’s not only generous. He’s also smart. He’s made sure that the money was used effectively enough to save 5,812,000 lives, so far. That’s roughly equivalent to the combined population of Los Angeles and Houston, the second and fourth largest cities in the US.

Most of that has been as the result of better healthcare to children internationally, where:

  • 3.4 million have been saved from Hepatitis B
  • 1.2 million saved from measles
  • 0.56 million saved from HIB bacteria
  • 0.47 saved from whooping cough
  • 0.14 saved from yellow fever.


He is also closing in on the goal of total eradication of polio, where his foundation’s donations have saved an additional 30,000 children.

His group is also making significant inroads in the battle against malaria, which infects over 100 million people every year, and kills some 800,000 of them, mostly children in Africa.

Gates has joined the ranks of other great industrial-strength philanthropists like Andrew Carnegie, Warren Buffett, and John D. Rockefeller who gave away the equivalent of $6.5 billion, $30 billion and $11 billion in today’s dollars. Buffett has pledged to give away 99% of his $50 billion fortune, saying, “I want to give my kids enough so that they could feel that they could do anything, but not so much that they could do nothing.”

Buffett and Gates are close friends and Buffett has pledged stock worth roughly $36 billion to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Gates also started The Giving Pledge, an effort to get the wealthiest Americans to pledge at least half of their fortunes to charitable causes. So far, a number of individuals (shown with their wealth in billions) have joined the pledge including: Warren Buffett (50), Mark Zuckerberg (17), Paul Allen(13), George Lucas (3.2), Barron Hilton (2.5), David Rockefeller (2.2) and Ted Turner (1.8).

If the wealthiest 400 Americans all signed on, they would contribute some $600 billion, which is twice the amount given to charity each year in the entire country.

And I suspect that if the recently much-maligned top 1%, those more than 1.1 million households that are worth at least $9 million apiece, all signed on, there would be a lot less anger focused on them, not to mention, an awful lot of good that could potentially come from all of that giving.

[Image credit:FrugalDad]

RP Siegel, PE, is the President of Rain Mountain LLC. He is also the co-author of the eco-thriller Vapor Trails, the first in a series covering the human side of various sustainability issues including energy, food, and water. Now available on Kindle.

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RP Siegel

RP Siegel, author and inventor, shines a powerful light on numerous environmental and technological topics. His work has appeared in Triple Pundit, GreenBiz, Justmeans, CSRWire, Sustainable Brands, PolicyInnovations, Social Earth, 3BL Media, ThomasNet, Huffington Post, Strategy+Business, Mechanical Engineering, and among others . He is the co-author, with Roger Saillant, of Vapor Trails, an adventure novel that shows climate change from a human perspective. RP is a professional engineer - a prolific inventor with 52 patents and President of Rain Mountain LLC a an independent product development group. RP recently returned from Abu Dhabi where he traveled as the winner of the 2015 Sustainability Week blogging competition.Contact:

8 responses

  1. You people are morons. Bill Gates is a capitalist pig who takes the money he rips off from Microsoft victims…er, “customers”…and taxpayers, invests it in sleazy things like genetically modified food, then calls it “philanthropy.”

    Do some research on Bill Gates, Microsoft and the Gates Foundation. You’ll find enough scandals to fill an encyclopedia; it isn’t rocket science.

    As a former Seattle school teacher, I’ve watched the city’s schools go steadily downhill under Bill Gates’ “leadership.”

    David Blomstrom
    Candidate for Washington State Governor

    1. Gracious!  David, your rant is an excellent example of how to NOT influence others. The name calling and condecension are plain awful.  Hope you didn’t share similar vitriol with your students – it’s the last thing they need to learn.

        1. David, You are certainly entitled to your opinions, though it would be nice if you would throw in a few facts to help prop them up. But showing contempt for anyone who doesn’t share them doesn’t win you any points around here. I’ve looked at your website and all I can say is that people like you give liberals a bad name.

    2. “capitalist pig”

      Wow, anytime I see someone using that word, I get a little worried that they are trying to sell me “ism”. No thanks, I don’t need that cure.

  2. Whoever wrote this forgot that Bruce Wayne also gives away billions for charities and has a foundation that helps reformed criminals and victims of crimes. Also Bruce Wayne looks a lot better in rubber armor than Bill gates ever will…

  3. I am a fan of two projects, B&M Gates Foundation foundation is supporting: 
    1) reinvent the toilet 
    2) reinvent education Sal Khan 

    On a personal note, Melinda French deserves more than 50% of the credit for the work Batman is doing, maybe you can write a followup story on Melinda.”Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. -Benjamin Franklin”

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