Yesterday, the legendary Warren Buffet announced he was giving most of his fortune away to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Doubling it from $30B-ish to $60B-ish. Yes, that B is for Billion.
I’m a big fan of this for several reasons.
1) Bill Gates is saving the world. Seriously. Whatever your feeling about Microsoft the company, it’s undeniable that the Foundation has done more good in the world than, well, than just about anything I can think of.
2) I’ve always been annoyed at celebrities and philanthropists starting their own charities all the time. We really don’t need the Fatboy Slim Illiteracy Foundation, there’s a hundred foundations out there already. I’m impressed that Buffett has so little ego, he realized his money would do more good combined with a pre-existing organization.
3) God bless these guys. Seriously.
4) They have the assets of a small country. They’re somewhere around #56, the size of Bangladesh. That’s just amazing. It’s also a dose of perspective to realize just how wealthy the USA really is. Almost three times as big as the next biggest economy (Japan). Take our two of our wealthiest citizens and their assets are larger than Vietnam, Costa Rica, Iceland and many others.
5) There’s an odd consequence of this trend (if it is a trend). Modern “Conservatives” are fond of the idea that public support for it’s poorer citizens isn’t needed, because private giving will make up the difference. And lo and behold, here are Gates and Buffet doing so much to help out. But the natural result of this trend is the very rich who have a heart will give away significant portions of their money. Who does that leave at the top of the heap? The jerks. The conservative viewpoint would naturally lead to a world where the worst people had the most. Interesting.
Update: Tapped brings up an interesting angle. As much money as this is, it’s not a lot compared to what the actual governments of the developed nations could do. Instead of Gates/Buffett picking up the slack, what if some of that money was devoted to influencing our government to appropriate some funds in the same ways? Could be exponentially more effective. That would be a special interest I could get behind.
Come to think of it, isn’t the route George Soros took, funding MoveOn.org and many other liberal democratic organizations?