Philanthropy - Gates and Buffet
July 5, 2006
For all the guff that billionaires Bill Gates and Warren Buffet get, I thought their recent decisions were quite remarkable and speak for the good in these two men.
First Gates announced that he was stepping down as CEO of Microsoft. To quote FOXNews.com:
Bill Gates, the world's richest man, announced earlier this month that he would be stepping back from his day-to-day responsibilities at Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) in July 2008 so he can spend more time on the Seattle-based foundation. The foundation followed his announcement by saying Melinda Gates would also be taking a more active role in their philanthropic work.
Up to this point, all of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's $29.1 billion has come exclusively from the Gates themselves; however, a week after Bill Gates' announcement, Warren Buffet said that he would give $37 billion to charities, mainly to the Gates Foundation. The money will be payed in installments of $1.5 billion per year and must be spent the year it's received.
I know that it's easy to say that "if I had that much money I'd give it away," but it would also be easy to give the money to children, to wait until your dead to give it away, etc. The $37 billion that Buffet is giving away is about 84% of his total stock holdings.
These recent acts of charity certainly set an example for others to follow. No one forced Buffet or Gates to give away their time or money--they chose to. Capitalism is often criticized because it seems to rely on a poor class; however, these two men have earned their fortunes through innovation, hard work, and excellent management skills. They have provided jobs to thousands and helped propel the US economy forward. Now they are going to help people much less fortunate than themselves. I hope to see more men like these in the near future.
See Also: The End of Philanthropy As We Know It - Forbes.com