If you had $100 billion to give away, how would you spend it?

One of the most popular living poets in the United States, Billy Collins was born in New York City in 1941. Collins is the author of nine books of poetry, including She Was Just Seventeen (2006), The Trouble with Poetry and Other Poems (2005), Nine Horses (2002), and Sailing Alone Around the Room: New and Selected Poems (2001). His work appears regularly in such periodicals as Poetry, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, and Harper's Magazine, and has been featured in various textbooks and anthologies, including those for the Pushcart Prize and the annual Best American Poetry series. Between 2001 and 2004, Collins served two terms at the 11th Poet Laureate of the United States. In his home state, Collins has been recognized as a Literary Lion of the New York Public Library (1992) and selected as the New York State Poet for 2004. Other honors include fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Guggenheim Foundation, and the first annual Mark Twain Prize for Humor in Poetry. He is currently a Distinguished Professor of English at Lehman College in the Bronx, where has taught for over thirty years. Ideas recorded at the 2007 Aspen Ideas Festival on: 7/4/07
  • Transcript


Question: If you had $100 billion to give away, how would you spend it? 

Billy Collins:    Well I’d get us a 430 Ferrari, and then we would think of others.  Well I don’t know.  You know they say if you gave all the money . . .  If you took all the money in the world . . . like everyone . . . let’s give up all your money, and we put it in a huge pile, and we count up all the money in the world.  And then we count up the number of people in the world, and divide the money that way.  So everybody gets an equal amount o money in the whole world.  That in about six days, the people that had the money would get it back somehow.  And the people who didn’t have it would somehow lose it.  So there’s something about the dream of economic equality that I wouldn’t invest my money in.  Apart from that, I don’t know.