Inside the Capitol

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

5-19 Gates to Moussaoui

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- Bill Gates says he wishes he weren't the richest person in the world. I'm sure we all can sympathize with him.
After all, he's a computer geek, who would prefer not to have the added visibility. And many probably can agree with him, wishing they were the richest instead.
The Microsoft co-founder is ranked by Forbes magazine this year as the world's richest individual, with an estimated wealth of about $50 billion.
Gates says great wealth brings nothing good. But he didn't always feel that way. New Mexicans will never forget that Gates and Microsoft got their start in Albuquerque, writing software programs for the world's first personal computer.
Unlike today, Gates was plagued by financial problems in the New Mexico of 30 years ago. One day he lamented to co-founder Paul Allen that he would never get rich in the computer business.
Unfortunately the young interviewer on CNBC-TV wasn't aware of that comment even though it is documented in the annals of Microsoft history.
It would have been interesting to hear Gates reflect on that observation. It might have been informative for those of us who haven't experienced the feeling of being the richest person in the world.
The second richest person also has a connection to our state. Warren Buffett, with an estimated wealth of $42 billion, is a cousin of New Mexico's GOP national committeeman George Buffett.
The Albuquerque entrepreneur says he has had the opportunity to sit down at the Berkshire Hathaway owner's kitchen table in Omaha and talk business with his somewhat distant cousin. But wasn't able to pry out any secrets.
Not everyone agrees with Forbes' rankings. No company wants to reveal proprietary data on how such decisions are made. Take Cuban leader Fidel Castro, for instance. Forbes ranked him seventh richest among world leaders. That's embarrassing for a man of the people.
But New Mexico leaders aren't complaining about recent rankings by Forbes and Kiplinger's placing Albuquerque at or near the top of lists for being livable and business friendly.
Gov. Bill Richardson is touting that information in New York City as he tries to convince bond rating companies to give New Mexico a AAA rating. Not many states achieve that status.
The United States Postal "Service" is putting out warnings that it may not be through with current rate hikes. It doesn't want us to be surprised by another one. I do appreciate the advance notice, but for goodness sake please let me use up the end of the 37-cent stamps I bought before hearing about the last rate hike.
Zacarias Moussaoui got exactly what he deserved -- life in prison. He obviously was so anxious to get the death penalty and become a martyr that I rejoiced in seeing him not get his wish.
My line of thinking wouldn't get very far in court, but it might do well in the court of public opinion. This guy had nearly four years to taunt Americans. By then there wasn't much more to say. It was time to go collect his reward in his misguided view of heaven.
But instead, he must wait around for a lifetime, locked up so tightly that no one will ever again have to listen to his perverted ideas.
Moussaoui's reason for wanting death related to the reason some jury members voted to spare his life. He was an insignificant foot-soldier in the al Qaeda army, unstable enough not to be in on the final plans.
But he wanted so much to be one of the guys that he did everything he could to beg for death. It is doubtful that anything would have been different on 9-11, even if he had told authorities everything he knew.
Some wanted his death because he was the only al Qaeda member connected with the plot that we had. Killing him would make up for the others we couldn't get. But if you wanted revenge, this is sweeter.
FRI, 5-19-06

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)



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