Old People

Apologies to those of you who have seen this list in past years, but this is the first time I’ve seen Slate’s 80 over 80 list. First off, it’s a pretty hilarious spin on the standard 40 Under 40 that we see in places like our own Puget Sound Business Journal. Second: Barbara Walters is 80! (Clint Eastwood is 79!) Third: man, there are a lot of elected officials holding really important offices on this list, and that does not make me feel super comfortable. Fourth, and actually relevant, is that #12 on this list is Bill Gates, Sr. Which gets me to thinking: are we taking enough advantage of Bill Gates, Sr. in Washington state?

We tend to get excited out here in the Pacific Northwest when we get national recognition, mostly because it feels like the rest of the country forgets that we’re up here most of the time. Anyone else tell east coasters that they live in Seattle and get that “wow, how many hours did it take to fly to New York? are there even direct flights?” look? So we crow about how we’re number one as a youth magnet city or top five as a great place to do business. But half the point of these rankings is to give different cities the top spot so that everyone buys the magazine that year. You can’t take it too seriously.

It’s different though when one of our citizens gets an award, particularly someone who’s not in the spotlight all the time. Maybe it’s just that – compared to his son – he’s only somewhat rich and powerful and incredibly accomplished, but you just don’t hear him listed when you talk about the major regional players. His last big public effort was tax reform. Now, obviously, there aren’t much more important, effective things that a person can be doing than giving away $30 billion dollars toward solving the world’s greatest problems, and it probably doesn’t leave that much time for big public service roles.  But I just wonder whether there’s some commission or committee or – dare I say it – elected office that we should be trying to recruit him for.


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