Steve's Reflections


In 1999 and 2000, Steve Kirsch outlined his thoughts on a variety of philanthropic and political reform topics. Please select from the list to find those of interest to you.

Steve’s Reflections #14

How to spend $1 billion over five years wisely for maximum good.

I was recently asked how I would answer. "Maximum good" is of course subjective and each of us has our own value system. Therefore, there is no one correct answer, just lots of subjective answers.

As for me, I'd spend it first on self-preservation of the planet because what good is spending to benefit ourselves if we are all dead?

Even though there is only a small chance that our planet will be destroyed in the near future, the consequences are too devastating to think about. I'd rather "buy insurance" now to ensure that I've reduced those odds as much as possible. So first, I'd make sure we had sufficient funding to identify "killer" asteroids. That is money that is incredibly well leveraged because there is no doubt that we WILL get hit someday. Twenty million dollars can save three billion lives. That's what I call high leverage. For more information, there was a recent article in TIME Magazine.

Next, I'd put some money toward supporting groups that are working to halt the spread of nuclear weapons, including Ploughshares Fund, Second Chance Foundation, and others. Maybe $10 million or so.

Third, I'd put money towards support of campaign finance reform, for example, Public Campaign's Clean Money initiatives. This is money that has INCREDIBLE leverage. If we can clean up our political system and make our government work responsibly, rather than recklessly (as when the Senate didn't ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty after only a few days of debate), it can save millions or billions of lives.

Fourth, I'd put some money towards improving our educational system. Educating future generations has incredible leverage.

Anything left I'd invest in medicine.

It's not hard to invest one billion dollars wisely.

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