NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - As the father of Microsoft Corp’s co-founder, Bill Gates Sr. helps fund worthy causes and travels worldwide but says the best part of having access to such wealth is not worrying about old age.
The father of Bill Gates Jr. at age 84 helps steer the multi-billion-dollar Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and readily admits he is lucky to have a successful family and meaningful work.
Someone unhappy with work, he joked in an interview during a promotional tour this week for his book “Showing Up for Life,” should “find a job in a very large foundation that’s owned by his son.
“That will take care of all those apprehensions,” he said.
Gates Sr.’s folksy book, published last year but newly out in paperback, offers reflections and bits of wisdom on such topics as work, family, friendship and generosity.
An attorney by profession, Gates is co-chair of the foundation established by his son and daughter-in-law. His son’s Microsoft fortunes allow him a unique job doing charitable work, as well as peace of mind, he said.
“The business of not having to worry, being able to do things, being able to eat well and travel and buy a new pair of pants once in a while, that’s fundamental,” he said. “Any sense of angst about having a tough old age is no longer there.”
At the foundation, he focuses on its domestic work, primarily in education. He also advocates publicly for the estate tax, which he dubs the “grateful heirs” tax.
A repeal of the estate tax, he writes in his book, “would strike close to the heart of the American dream of applying one’s talent and energy to build a better life.”
The U.S. Congress at the end of 2009 failed to extend the federal tax on estates, letting it expire for one year due to a quirk in the law.
“It’s an unbelievable indictment of our government to get in a situation where that tax just went away,” Gates Sr. said at a New York appearance this week, in which he was interviewed by his son before an audience.
A mistake by those with great wealth, he said in the interview, is to be “covetous.”
“I mean an absence of a sense of charity, a sense of philanthropy, a sense of supporting the common will,” he said. “Actually I admire wealthy people who think it’s a good idea to pay taxes.”
Despite a book full of heart-warming reminiscences and life lessons, Gates Sr. said he would not want to advise anyone who came into a life of affluence as he has.
“I don’t think the world is improved any by somebody going and giving somebody advice about the way they ought to live their lives,” he said.
As for his appearance exchanging memories and chatting about family and values with his son, he said, it’s simple. “I’m promoting my book.”