Thursday, February 11, 2010

Austrian Millionaire Gives Away Fortune

"I increasingly got the sensation that there is a connection between our wealth and their poverty," he said in responses to feelings of guilt that arose while on gliding trips in South America and Africa.

"It was the biggest shock in my life, when I realized how horrible, soulless and without feeling the five star lifestyle is," he said. "In those three weeks, (on a recent vacation in Hawaii) we spent all the money you could possibly spend. But in all that time, we had the feeling we hadn't met a single real person - that we were all just actors. The staff played the role of being friendly and the guests played the role of being important and nobody was real."

"Despite making millions through furnishings and accessories, owning a 3,500 square foot villa in the Alps, and driving around in a luxury Audi A8, he had never been more miserable. Rabeder has now found something that gives his life much more meaning. He's giving it all away." (Huffington Post)

''For a long time I believed that more wealth and luxury automatically meant more happiness. I come from a very poor family where the rules were to work more to achieve more material things, and I applied this for many years.''

But over time a conflicting feeling developed. ''More and more I heard the words: 'Stop what you are doing now - all this luxury and consumerism - and start your real life'. I had the feeling I was working as a slave for things that I did not wish for or need.''

For many years, he said, he was not brave enough to give up his comforts. The tipping point came during a three-week holiday with his wife in Hawaii.

''It was the biggest shock in my life when I realized how horrible, soulless and without feeling the five-star lifestyle is.'...

Since deciding to sell up, Mr Rabeder said he had felt ''free, the opposite of heavy''. But he did not judge those who chose to keep their wealth. ''I do not have the right to give any other person advice. I was just listening to the voice of my heart and soul.'' (Theage.com.au)

Now he has given him a monthly wage of just over $1,000 and put the rest of his $4+ million towards mymicrocredit.org.

WOW. What do you say to that?

7 comments:

Daniel said...

A non-profit that gives out loans to poor people doesn't sound that amazing to me. Poor people need grants not loans.

DK said...

Haha, did you try and think of the most critical comment you could before you wrote that? I'm joking, but still, it was definitely shocked by your comment.

Micro-loans have proved to be very successful in establishing sustainable economic ventures in impoverished regions. I think there is a place for grants and loans.

Anna said...

I wonder if there is a religious aspect to his decision or not.

DK said...

I had an eye for that when I was scanning the articles. Not necessarily if it has a religious aspect, but just to get more to the root of the decision. It seems like it came out of a growing conviction, but as to what his world view was that affirmed that conviction, it's not clear at this point.

Anna said...

Well, major kudos to him, regardless. :)

DK said...

And I was thinking, either way, grants or loans, he freed up $4+ million of wealth to stimulate economic activity in 3rd world countries that was previously concentrated/locked in an already wealthy region. That will make a huge difference in a lot of peoples lives.

Anna said...

Yup.