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Gated community

29 Apr 2020 | News Roundup

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is a chronic do-gooder including worthy causes like fighting malaria and less worthy ones like fighting carbon dioxide. But he and his wife just bought… wait for it… an oceanfront mansion. Yes, that’s right, in Del Mar, California. Now let’s be frank here: When Bill Gates pays $43 million for a house we don’t feel envy. He earned his fortune (Mac fans notwithstanding, Microsoft contributed enormously to human well-being with products from Windows to Office to its business services) and when rich people spend money, less-rich people get work and pay. The thing is, Gates says the rising tide of nature’s wrath will soon wash away the smug aristos in their fancy seaside chalets. But he obviously doesn’t believe it.

Apparently this particular palace once belonged to “a former wife of the billionaire oil baron T. Boone Pickens”. We were going to call it an estate but the paparazzi aerial photo shows that it’s cheek-by-jowl with other really expensive rich-person houses to the point that there’s, um, no lawn or other green stuff, and it’s a stone’s throw from the fast-vanishing beach and surging Pacific. The late corporate tycoon was evidently something of a collector of exes as of money, being worth roughly half a billion bucks when he passed away in 2019. He was also a Republican activist including backing the Swift Vets and POWs for Truth PAC that supported George W. Bush and attacked John Kerry. And he gave some $700 million to charity, lobbied against the eating of horses and did various other worthy things.

On the other hand, Pickens advocated for alternative energy while making much of his fortune from oil. Now maybe it’s still OK to give a lot of money to his ex; she wasn’t there during the oil years and evidently wasn’t entirely committed to everything he did. But still, it seems Gates is saying one thing for thee and doing quite another for me. Which is at least as unattractive in a rich person as in a poor one.

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