How to Make a Difference in 2016
by Vincent Bevins
Dear friends and family,
I write to wish you happy holidays, but also to ask you for your help. As you know, these are dark times for humanity, for our planet, and for our children.That’s why I have decided to return all of my Christmas gifts this year, and will use the proceeds to make cash donations directly to Mark Zuckerberg. Contributing as much as possible to Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, will also be my New Years’ Resolution, and I humbly ask you to join me on this exciting journey.
As you no doubt recently heard, Zuckerberg has pledged to donate ninety-nine percent of the value of his company stock to ambitious future projects that he will define over the course of his life. There are two major advantages to this. The first is that he will save humanity. He is clearly the man best able to decide, unilaterally, how this $45 billion (and counting) should be used. The proof is that he made $45 billion. The second is that since his pledge is actually denominated in Facebook stock, everyone can help, even if you are poor. Economy hit you hard this year? Or just short on cash this Christmas? Or maybe you are even from the developing world, where hundreds of millions of Facebook users reside. Don’t worry! As an alternative to direct cash payments to Zuckberberg, you can simply do everything in your power to push up the value of Facebook stock. Spend as much time on the site as possible. Do all your shopping there. Create and upload great content. Just keep doing what you’ve been doing — but more of it — to make him as rich as possible.
Some of my friends have said: Didn’t we sort of do a lot for Zuckerberg already? They say, “Didn’t that guy not even invent anything? Didn’t he just marry three existing technologies — websites, and email, and the sheen of North American university elitism — and then wait for the world’s population to pour their images, writing, and interpersonal communications freely into his servers? Didn’t we actually already make him that $45 billion? And for the last few years, hasn’t he been re-designing the site’s algorithms in an effort to maximize its usage and profitability, consequently fundamentally altering the way our friends and the world are represented to us, with sometimes devastating psychological consequences?”
They’re looking at it wrong. Through the beautiful mechanisms of the market, we’ve successfully carried out an efficient transfer of resources to the man who can best put them to use. It may not have been easy, but no one forced us to sign up Facebook or to keep posting. We poured out our blood, sweat, memes, and identity politics to get him this far.
But think of how much further he could go with our help. Imagine what Zuck could do if he had $50 billion, $60 billion, or even $500 billion. Luckily, we don’t have to imagine, since he laid out very specific ideas in an open letter to his newborn daughter published on Facebook.com.
Can you learn and experience 100 times more than we do today?
Can our generation cure disease so you live much longer and healthier lives?
Can we connect the world so you have access to every idea, person and opportunity?
Can we harness more clean energy so you can invent things we can’t conceive of today while protecting the environment?
Can we cultivate entrepreneurship so you can build any business and solve any challenge to grow peace and prosperity?
How exciting is all of this? But for it all to happen, the world needs to cultivate entrepreneurship. Look around at all that is wrong — so many problems, and not nearly enough businesses to fix them.
Please join me on this quest to help Mark Zuckerberg help the world. I have heard some other idle criticisms from idle people — none of whom have $45 billion — saying things like, “He didn’t even launch a foundation, he just created a limited liability company that can do whatever he wants. Or, if you have $45 billion to spare, it’s not like you can actually use it all to meaningfully buy things, so just launching Pharaonic projects to bend the world to your will sounds like the most fun thing to do anyways. And, if you don’t actually cede control over your resources to to anyone else or some collective decision-making process, it’s not actually charity.”
These points may have some validity. I’m not sure. They are issues which we will, undoubtedly, debate, and resolve over the coming months on Facebook.com. But in the meantime, I will not be caught on the wrong side of history. Will you?
Thank you and Happy New Year. My unborn children thank you, and they thank Mark Zuckerberg.
Photo by Maurizio Pesce