I’m somewhere in the area of being $999 million short from attending what’s known as “summer camp for billionaires,” so my wife had to keep me home this summer. Alas, I can only sit back and watch the fun unfold from afar.
According to Fox Business, both Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates was spotted with Amazon founder Jeff Bezos in Sun Valley, Idaho, on Thursday for the event. It’s actually a conference put on by Allen & Co., a private investment bank, so there’s not the typical summer camp fare like pick-up basketball or rocket-building. (Unless, that is, you want to hear Bezos prattle on about Blue Origin while cursing Elon Musk and SpaceX under every second breath.)
Spotting Gates in Sun Valley was big news, if just for the fact it was his first in-person appearance of any substance since his divorce from Melinda Gates was announced two months ago. Bezos, another man who endured an acrimonious split with his wife and half his fortune, is one of the few people who could appropriately commiserate with what happens when adultery costs you roughly 10 to 20 times the GDP of Suriname.
— Mahesh Narayanan (@heshnarayanan) July 10, 2021
However, Gates wasn’t there to cry in his whiskey over having to part with all that sweet Windows XP cash (oh, and Melinda too, I guess). He was there to lecture his fellow billionaires. Over what, you may ask? Vaccines? Philanthropy? Prenups?
Oh, if only. According to Fox Business, “[s]peculation is swirling here he will be giving a speech on climate change, one of the key issues that his charity, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is addressing.”
Now, granted, the first and second rules of summer camp for billionaires are that you don’t talk about summer camp for billionaires and you don’t talk about summer camp for billionaires. Thus, there’s not a transcript of the event.
If you don’t get why this is funny, however, consider that no one in attendance at the Allen & Co. conference likely got there via Spirit Airlines, Amtrak or Tesla Model 3.
On Wednesday, Business Insider reported that “as the rich and powerful descend on the region [for the conference], Friedman Memorial Airport, a picturesque airfield surrounded by grazing cattle, is being overrun with air traffic.”
“In fact, the airport was so busy Tuesday morning that the Federal Aviation Administration wouldn’t let planes from the West Coast to as far as Michigan and Canada take off from their departure points until the traffic eased in what’s known as a ground-delay program.”
— Taryn O’Neill (@tarynoneill) July 7, 2021
In years past, private jets have been double-parked at the airport during the July event. Some of them don’t park, however. Check out this report from social media on the status of one of Jeff Bezos’ private jet on Friday afternoon:
N758PB Going to Hailey, Idaho, US (SUN, Friedman Memorial Airport) arriving in ~1h03m
— Jeff Bezos’ Jets (@BezosJets) July 9, 2021
Earlier this week, the same jet flew from New York to Sun Valley and on to Seattle:
N758PB Took off near White Plains, New York, US. pic.twitter.com/8F2iQOxyfH
— Jeff Bezos’ Jets (@BezosJets) July 6, 2021
N758PB Took off near Hailey, Idaho, US. pic.twitter.com/pIgWWixrRQ
— Jeff Bezos’ Jets (@BezosJets) July 7, 2021
N758PB Landed in Seattle, Washington, US. pic.twitter.com/XER4lSZygt
— Jeff Bezos’ Jets (@BezosJets) July 7, 2021
Maybe he forgot something at home and needed someone to fetch it? It’s a reasonable guess that Bezos was aboard when it arrived in Sun Valley and he obviously wasn’t when it left, although it’s unclear who was being ferried to Seattle. Then again, if those going back to Seattle wanted a more environmentally friendly option, they could have taken commercial back to Washington state on their own — or waited. Bezos is the celebrity, not them. Without the bald tech oligarch, most people are generally anonymous enough to travel commercially.
And Gates himself is no slouch in the private jet department. From aviation website Simple Flying: “The Microsoft founder turned climate activist owns no less than four business jets, which he calls his ‘guilty pleasure’. His collection is worth close to $200 million and features not one but two Gulfstream G650s. What’s more, he has just invested billions of dollars in the world’s largest business jet service provider.”
As one CEO joked anonymously to Fox Business about Gates’ speech: “Talking climate change on his private jet?”
Given that private jets are one of the prime drivers for climate change, why even bother to have the event in Sun Valley? Why not do it virtually? Networking, of course.
“They’ve organized the biggest matchmaking service for media companies,” Steven Davidoff Solomon, head of the Berkeley Center for Law and Business, told NPR. For instance, Bezos first agreed to buy The Washington Post while he was at the Allen & Co. conference.
And why not network? The aggregate worth of attendees is upwards of $1 trillion. With that kind of juice from politicians, celebrities and oligarchs — both of the bald and coiffed variety — who could resist? And since they’re all rich and famous, of course, they need to take a private jet to Idaho to listen to Bill Gates lecture them about climate change, inter alia.
Meanwhile, Gates thinks the rest of us common folk who don’t get to attend “summer camp for billionaires” ought to start eating soy burgers to save the environment.
“In terms of livestock, it’s very difficult. There are all the things where they feed them different food, like there’s this one compound that gives you a 20 percent reduction [in methane emissions],” Gates said earlier this year during a discussion event about his new book, “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster.”
“But sadly, those bacteria [in their digestive system that produce methane] are a necessary part of breaking down the grass.”
“And so I don’t know if there’ll be some natural approach there. I’m afraid the synthetic [protein alternatives like plant-based burgers] will be required for at least the beef thing.”
Right. Keep eating those Boca Burgers, plebs, and rest easy. Bill Gates is doing his part, hopping around on his harem of private jets and going to “summer camp for billionaires,” where he’s keeping the world safe from beef, carbon and climate change.
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