Sunday, January 20, 2008

Simplot could make a little go a long way

In the late 18th century, rags to riches trendsetter Benjamin Franklin bequeathed $100 to his native Boston. This money gained interest in a fund over 100 years, compounding to $40,000. By 1890, the endowment helped build Boston's Franklin Park.

In Idaho, another rags to riches innovator could create a similar earmark. J.R. Simplot has set prime examples of the high value of scrimping and saving, spinning gold from potato and computer chips, and is now worth more than $2.6 billion.

Imagine Mr. Simplot bequeathing a small chunk of his fortune to his beloved Idaho under the condition that it not be touched for 300 years. Let's say Mr. Simplot donates a mere $1,000, to gain compound interest at 6 percent over three centuries. In the year 2323, this money will have grown to $100 billion - or almost twice as much as Bill Gates merits today.–

From this pocket change of a $1,000 - which is like a 25-cent piece for Mr. Simplot, Idaho could start buying back for itself many of the public lands that the feds will have sold off by then. Research paid by this fund could fast forward plutonium decontaminating processes so simple plots of spud can return, alongside nutritious camas roots, for free-range buffalo (and future mastodon hybrid) grazing. The Idaho quarter could replace the penny. Mr. Simplot's holographic emblazoned smile on the front might complement Ben's enduring beam from the $100. On the reverse, the scales of justice could carry potatoes counterbalanced by active RFID chips dangling over Chinese characters signifying trust.

Poor boys like me of the 24th century would then become dazzled by the simple ingenuity of thrifty frugal futuristic living and be further inspired to do the same as the straightforward champion heads-up on the innovative quarter piece.

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