Probability of children's income level, given parent's income level. It's for the US, but interesting nevertheless (Source: Pew Charitable Trust, Social Mobility Project, 2012)

The winners of the Battlers & Billionaires book giveaway are Allan Hong and William. They answered the question: “If you were a super-billionaire donating $10 billion to the city you live in, what would you want to see it spent on?”

They didn’t win because of their answers (as sensible as they are) but because the random number generator at picked them out for the prize (fn 1). They’ll each get a copy of Andrew Leigh’s Battlers & Billionaires, courtesy of the publisher Black Inc.

If you’re looking for an answer to this interesting question, go to the comments. Here’s what the winners said:

Allan Hong: “Ten million can provide more public transport infrastructure so that those live in outer suburbs can still access good quality jobs and cultural activities.

William: “I would spend it on 1. Tram priority; 2. Improved, networked buses; 3. Grade separation of railway lines and 4. public housing in and near activity centres.”

Looking at the various comments, spending the money on transport infrastructure, particularly public transport and cycling, is the dominant theme. There were also a number related to social policy and inequality, reflecting the themes addressed in Battlers & Billionaires.

The Urbanist doesn’t give as much attention to cities outside the Sydny-Melbourne axis as he should and would like to, so I’ll highlight some of the suggestions for Australia’s smaller cities:

Burke John: “What Darwin lacks is a Wigboat service to Bali. I’d have to support such a whimsical project.”

Jan Dobson: “$10 Billion would pay for an indoor stadium for entertainment, allowing all year round concerts, markets, fairs, theatre etc etc for this little Tassie town.”

Uraok: “I would setup a water based transportation system along Throsby Creek into Newcastle Harbour. Using artificially propelled currents, users would be able to float into/from the city on their inner tubes, paddle boards, canoes etc (think tubing in Laos).

Paolo Marinelli: “For Brisbane: $5b contribution to a full $10b Cross River Rail, $2.5b on Busway extensions north, east and west. $1b in a trust fund to provide about 10 years of better cross city bus links.”

Jacqui Symonds: “I’m in Canberra; My $10b would go towards making Canberra completely powered by sustainable energy and making money through putting energy back into the grid.”

David Hardie: “Buy back all the roads with private tolls on them. Admittedly, this does not apply in Perth, where I live, but every time I see them in Melbourne or Sydney where I visit, I just wonder why they settled on such a regressive solution.”

Nightingale John: “I would spend the money, in Brisbane this time, as Alan Parker, on bicycle commuter infrastructure, using European examples, so that cycling could be perceived as safe at scale.”

I was intrigued by michaelfstanley‘s suggestion: “I would commission a statue of Gina Rinehart fashioned from Iron-ore rich boulders at every Melbourne train station, arterial overpass and centrelink office. This way the battlers would see the glorious result of hard work.”

I just learned from the Introduction of Battlers & Billionaires that Lang Hancock was worth $150 million when he died. The latest rich list says his daughter, Gina Rinehart, is worth $29 billion.

Here’s a review of Battlers and Billionaires written by Paul Frijters and posted on Club Troppo today and here’s another (by Don Arthur). Here are two articles by Jessica Irvine, also published today, that draw extensively on Batters & Billionaires (here and here). The book will be launched officially tomorrow (1 July 2013) in Canberra with launches in other cities on following days.

Update: Andrew Leigh discussed his book with ABC National’s Jonathon Green on 2 July and ABC News Radio’s Marius Benson on 1 July; with 2cc’s Mark Parton on 2 July;


(fn 1) Three entries weren’t considered. One was late, one was entered in the wrong place and one was from someone who’s too close to me.