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Monday, June 26, 2006

Warren Buffett donates $37bn to charity

Thanks to Ian Russell for bringing this story to my attention.

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett is to donate about $37bn - most of his vast personal fortune - to Bill Gates' charitable foundation"

Mr. Buffet is the second most wealthy person (after Gates). Recently Bill Gates announced his decision to step down from day to day running of Microsoft to dedicate his time to the charitable foundation that he and his wife Melinda run (his dad works for it as well). They have more than $30 billion in trust already.

The foundation works globally to address health and education problems.

This from Bill and Melinda: "We are awed by our friend Warren Buffett's decision to use his fortune to address the world's most challenging inequities, and we are humbled that he has chosen to direct a large portion of it to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation."

While I'm appalled that so few people are able to amass such great wealth in today's free global market (at great cost to many others in some cases, such as Walmart's stranglehold on suppliers), I have to admire the intent to do good with some of the personal wealth. The Gates are known for being deeply involved in the issues, including visiting project sites all over the world.

What do you think and if you amass a billion or two, what will you do with it (beside share it with your best blogger friends of course)?

I can't imagine accruing such wealth - always worked on the principle of how little it would need to give up the grind altogether and go fishing. ;o)

I remember old JP Getty being interviewed about the meaning of his vast wealth - never the epitome of a chuckle-bunny he. He was asked straight whether it gave him any great pleasure and without hesitation he simply said no! I think most of these guys are travelling in a fast car without any brakes. I mean, what can you do with the damn stuff after a certain point? It becomes like Elton John's £200k a year florist's bill even when he's not at home to smell the roses! absurd.

there's no longer a taste of sour grapes when I say I'm quite happy where I am in the wealth spectrum thanks - sanely comfortable. :o)
I'll buy an island, solar panels, grow my own food, dock a superfine sailboat there and wait for the rest of the world go to hell in global warming, hurricanes, poverty and stupidity and war.
Isn't that what every billionaire is supposed to do?
Actually my sentiment goes with Ian - why horde the stuff in the first place!
Amassing a great fortune like that will only come from owning several blossoming businesses and being in the right place at the right time, as Warren Buffet freely admits. I don’t know any billionaires, but I have been connected with some who make the top 50 in Australia, worth a miserly 200/300 million. I think having great wealth like that will either make you miserable or be a source of satisfaction when it’s to be used to benefit mankind. By all accounts Buffet lives very simply in a modest house and does not have any extravagant habits.

If I had spare billion or 2 I would set a Charitable Trust in perpetuity with say a Goldman Sacs, who I feel comfortable as an Investment Advisor and use the Income to primarily assist the undeveloped world. A tiny piddle in an ocean of need, that would provide would generate yearly income of about 160 million a year. Identifying particular project needs would by carried out by the charitable Board with I suggest Gary as chairperson! Meetings of course would require a lot of travel to far off destinations, with adequate allowances for Board members for food drink to go with it!! 10 meetings a year, each in a different country!!
Best wishes
Lindsay - your plan is my plan! I always imagined that if I came into a ton of money, I would establish a Trust. Then I'd pick good friends with good hearts to join me on the board - and of course we'd meet in exotic locations and visit our projects on the ground too. I tend to think of international work on behalf of children, but the board could decide.

You're on.
Ian and Zee - you humble gents offer another perspective - who needs to be so rich anyhow?

(If you do inherit great wealth somehow, be sure to ask Lindsay and I for advice.)
I can't even think as high as a billion, but if I had a huge whack of money, I'd buy land (of course), and establish a community of self-sufficient-ish acreages.

But on the whole, I'm glad I don't have to contend with that kind of temptation to power. Who knows what kind of madness I might succumb to?
Hi Gary,
You surely deserve to be the chairperson of such a huge fund...
I have a foundation too but all the money i have so far is from my own savings...I think will power to help is as important as the money...
Gary, you'd be the perfect person to run a Trust like that. I've always though I would like to do something like that for the children of the world, too. I guess health and education would be my pet projects. That and supporting hard-working bloggers in their efforts.
People with good intentions seem to be more important than those that actually do something. I am sure it is confounding when a capitalist is doing good. Socialist prefer to appear to be caring, but don't have the means to do anything.
My money would go towards animal welfare and towards the fight against sexual exploitation of children.
What's really cool about Buffett is that he's not requiring his name be attached to the money in any way.
yes, we shouldn't forget he is a capitalist before a philanthropist, and not a socialist (as far as i know) - we have no idea how many people got burnt on his way up. he is like a repentant sinner! ;o)

we shouldn't praise our gods too highly for our deliverance when they put us into the mess in the first place.
Yes, I hired hundreds of workers when I lived in Sudan at one point, and paid top wages - $30 US a month per worker. My food allowance was $35 a day at that time (and I had a salary and housing etc. too of course). I felt a taste of what extraordinary wealth (comparatively) was like. I expatiated my sense of guilt or responsibility be being generous when I could.

This included hiring 5 Eritrean refugees to work for me at our house. We lived somwhat like a family (although everyone had something to do)and I eventually sponsored one couple to immigrate to Canada (I'm godfather of one of their sons).

As for capatilists and socialists, I think we're a little beyond stereotypes today - but I have no reservation saying I'm a social democrat and believe the state should work for the benefit of all citizens collectively. Hey, I'm Canadian! I love the word liberal and find free-market, unfettered business and every-person-for-herself a pathetic approach to living together.

A quick comment turns into a rant! GIVE ME A BILLION!
The other nice thing about Buffett is that he gave smaller, yet sizeable, gifts to Trusts and charities etablished by his children. Though his children will also receive a comfortable inheritance, he doesn't believe in passing down large amounts of wealth through the generations. By all accounts, he sounds like a wonderful philanthropist and a humble person.

I always play "if I won the lottery." I have a couple of things I'd do with the money, but I'd wish to remain anonymous. Giving away that much money would not only be a little self-promotional (even with the best of intentions, my name would still be attached to it if I didn't remain anonymous) but might also open me up to being taken advantage of by not-so-well-meaning people.
If I were to amass or come into such money I would want to be rid of it as soon as possible - other than living within a reasonable means (always being able to afford organic and getting a hybrid car with enough money to show my children and myself the world) any extra wouldn't be good for me. Perhaps I'd start that organic restaraunt.... (and run it the way I want to)

The other 97% of it? Likely on children's welfare, here and around the world - that would include basic things like water food and heath care, to schools and literacy (a personal soap box) and all the way up to dignity and pride in diversity and cultural richness. I believe we have to start with the children, and the family units, the communities - always respecting and being enriched ourselves by their culture - if we are ever going to create any positive change for the better in this world.

that's my 2 cents (which is all I have extra now) anyhow...
With gobs and gobs of money, I would like to build wind farms, and solar and geothermal stations in places of the world where to provide low-cost energy might improve the quality of life of the residents. Also, to provide low-cost heating to people in colder climates.

Also, to improve the design, build prototypes, and then develop multi-tiered greenhouses in parts of the world where to introduce new food sources would improve quality of life and lengthen lifespan.

And find a country where a class B patent search is much more reasonably priced. Even with gobs and gobs of money, being wastrel would go against my grain.
What a thoughtful bunch of bloggers. I would be delighted to have you on my Foundation board! We'd cover the ground from children to animal rights to the envirnment... and have fun too.
I'm totally with you on the trust-thing! Ofcourse I'd first delete all my debts - the depts of my family, buy a flat for me that's big enough for me to have guests, and pay for a spa vacation for my mom. She needs it!

Then I'd put a lot of money in a trust. Trusts are a good thing.

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