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The Crazy Billionaires Club

posted Jul 31, 2013, 5:00 PM by Christopher Ellison

For a while, I’ve occasionally played a game with myself sometimes when I’m bored.  I call it the Crazy Billionaires Club game.  The rules are simple.  Start by imagining you have all the money you could ever use and more; your lifestyle is adequately provided for, and you don’t need to worry about running out of money to cover that lifestyle for the duration of your natural life.  On top of that, you have tens or hundreds of millions of dollars more than you would need to support your desired lifestyle; hell, have billions if you really want.  The game of the Crazy Billionaires Club is to come up with inventive ways to spend that money.  These can be silly or stupid, but I usually aim for something that would help other people but isn't as simple as just handing over huge checks to the Salvation Army.

For me, this game often devolves to a game of “how silly can I be while still spending money in such a way that people would benefit?”  For example, wouldn't it be fun, if you had the money, to just randomly fund a gigantic slice of projects on any given crowdsourcing site all in one day?  

Sometimes ideas come from conversations with other people.  The day I first read about the Mine Kafon, I thought it was interesting enough to forward the article along to my wife.  When we started talking about how clever the idea was, she suggested that a good CBC idea would be to buy a ton of them and ship them to heavily-mined countries.  I agreed, but I like to make my CBC ideas a little more eccentric; I thought adding some custom electronics (solar panels, speakers, accelerometers, and an MP3 player) would be even more fun.  That way, you could have custom playlists for the different phases of operation.  How much fun would it be if one of those hit a mine and “MMMBop” by Hanson started up?  Or if it got a burst of speed and started playing “Rollin’ With My Homies”?  Sure, it’s stupid, but I find the whole idea just hilarious.

I also love the idea of asking people to pay things forward and seeing how they react.  For example, I love the stories every year of the person or people who deposit Krugerrands in the Salvation Army pots.  What if you could do something similar, but for private citizens, and ask that they pay it forward and report on how they do that?  Set up a website where people can only create anonymous accounts if they have a secret code.  Make up a bunch of those codes and hide them along with some high-value but small items in “take-a-penny, leave-a-penny”-style geocaches.  Direct people who take the item to the website and ask them to pay forward, say, half the value of what they took.  Ask them to log just how they paid everything forward on the website.  I’d love to see the ideas people could come up with for how to pay forward an unexpected windfall like that.