Does Bill Gates Get His Money Delivered to Him in Freshly Printed Reams?

After the Washington Post decided to print this letter, one of their technology editors called me on the phone to verify some of the numbers in the letter. The editor questioned me in a friendly way about whether my assumption of 1000 one hundred bills being a foot tall was accurate. I explained that in thinking about this, I assumed that about a 100 one hundred dollar bills would be about an inch tall, and that since there are ten inches in every foot, that a foot of bills would have about 1000 one hundred dollar bills. (Isn't it astounding how many people still haven't heard about the decision to reduce the number of inches in a foot from 12 to 10?)

The Washington Post editor then raised the good point about whether we should measure $100 bills as if they were totally flat pieces of paper. The editor said, "A ream of regular paper is 500 sheets, and is only about an inch tall."

"That's very true," I answered. "Maybe Bill Gates gets his money delivered to him in reams, directly from the U.S. Treasury. But the rest of us usually don't get reams of money delivered several times a day."

We then both agreed that if we increased the number of $100 bills in a foot to 2000, that the total number of miles of Gatesian wealth would still be scandalously long.

Giggle. Imagine the following not-too-exaggerated comment overheard in the halls of Redmond, Washington: "We need to purchase some more office supplies. Break open a fresh ream of money."

Incidentally, if the U.S. Treasury decided to open a new printing plant in Redmond, Washington, this factory would have to have the capacity of printing over $200,000 per hour to meet the average income level of Bill Gates.

Here is how I calculate Gates' average hourly income:

The total number of hours Gates has worked since Microsoft was founded, in 1975, can be determined by multiplying the following numbers:

80 hours/week average work week.
52 weeks in a year.
22 years.

80 times 52 times 22 = 91520

Bill Gates' current net worth is estimated to be $26 billion. (I used $20 billion in the original letter because that's the net worth I heard he had last month.)

$26 billion divided by 91520 = $218,531/hour.

Out of curiosity, how much is this above minimum wage?

218,531 subtracted by 5 gives 218,526.

On average, then, Bill Gates earns $218,526 per hour more than minimum wage. He also earns more in one hour than the President of the United States earns in a year.

If I were a manager at the U.S. Treasury, I would be very reluctant to open a new printing plant in Redmond, Washington. Keeping up with Bill Gates' exponentially rising income could burn out printing presses faster than they could be replaced.

Also, keep in mind that on an average work day, Bill Gates goes to sleep $3.5 million richer than when he woke up.

Using the average hourly income of $218,000/hour, you multiply the average number of hours he works per day (16), by 218,000, and you get $3.5 million (give or take a couple hundred thous.)

Here's a friendly suggestion, Bill. If you make $3.5 million per day, why not give away $3 million per day to charity, and then take home the remaining $500,000 as a fair salary. If you adjust your style of living, it's entirely possible to live within a $500,000/day budget. Give it a try. You can do. I know you can.

Return to the Hoarded Wealth Web Page