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Billions Donated to Charity 1245

Anonymous Philanthropist writes " Warren Buffet , the world's second-richest man, announced over the weekend that he will soon donate 85% of his entire net worth, weighing in at around $37 Billion, to charities, with over 80% of it going to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. This makes it the single largest monetary donation in history."
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Billions Donated to Charity

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  • by mjmalone ( 677326 ) * on Sunday June 25, 2006 @04:33PM (#15601761) Homepage
    From A conversation with Warren Buffett []:

    People will be very curious, I think, as to how much your decision - and its announcement at this particular time - is connected to Bill Gates' announcement in mid-June that he would phase out of his operating responsibilities at Microsoft and begin to devote most of his time to the foundation. What's the story here?

    I realize that the close timing of the two announcements will suggest they're related. But they aren't in the least. The timing is just happenstance. I would be disclosing my plans right now whether or not he had announced his move - and even, in fact, if he were indefinitely keeping on with all of his work at Microsoft.

    On the other hand, I'm pleased that he's going to be devoting more time to the foundation. And I think he and Melinda are pleased to know they're going to be working with more resources.

    Although, it's hard to believe that the timing is entirely coincidental... especially since Bill said he'd be leaving Microsoft over the next two years, and Warren said []:

    With so much new money to handle, the foundation will be given two years to resize its operations.
    • by maxume ( 22995 ) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @04:55PM (#15601858)
      Who knows why they each did what they did, but Buffett isn't getting any younger, and he loses a bunch of influence by shedding all those assets, probably something that he is quite happy to do.
      • by Gentlewhisper ( 759800 ) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @07:51PM (#15602570)
        Bill Gates liquidates all assets of Melinda & Gates Foundation and vanishes into thin air as the World's richest & second richest man...
      • by alshithead ( 981606 ) * on Sunday June 25, 2006 @08:39PM (#15602763)
        No one with that kind of money EVER loses influence by disposing of SOME of it. When you have that kind of money you can get rid of 90% of it and still be extremely wealthy. It's self generating after a certain long as you don't spend like Michael Jackson. If anything he will gain more influence. That kind of philanthropy opens all kinds of doors...want an example? Check for opinions on Bill Clinton and Bush Sr. after the fundraising they've done for the big Tsunami and Katrina. They didn't even have to personally donate huge amounts and they both look better than they ever did when they were in office. Buffet and the Gates' will probably go down in history as the biggest philanthropists of the 2000's. Hell, depending on what the Gates' do in the next 20 years, Microsoft might only be a footnote in the history books compared to their philanthropy...same for Buffet.
        • by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @09:02PM (#15602845) Homepage Journal
          "Microsoft might only be a footnote in the history books compared to their philanthropy...same for Buffet."
          You mean like Andrew Carnegie?
          Yep if the Gates foundation actually develops a vaccine that can prevent malaria then yes Microsoft will be nothing but a footnote in history. Any ruthless business practices will be pretty much forgot just because a millions of children will not have to suffer. Life just isn't fair.
          Hell if they pull it off I might actually stop putting pins in my Bill Gates voodoo doll.
          • by alshithead ( 981606 ) * on Sunday June 25, 2006 @09:27PM (#15602906)
            That is exactly what I mean. Who is going to really remember Microsoft and their business practices 50 years from now if the Gates' money finds a cure for malaria, AIDS, or even better...Alzheimers, diabetes, or the flu? History books usually don't tell the whole story, or at least the ones that do don't make it into the public school systems.
            • by iamplupp ( 728943 ) on Monday June 26, 2006 @09:33AM (#15605049) Homepage
              Malaria, 500 million infections and 3 million deaths annually.
              AIDS, 3 million deaths annually and rising.

              Diabetes, alzheimers and flu more important you say? BTW, there already is a cure for 90% (type II) of all diabetes: Eat healthier, exercise more!

              The sad thing is the pharmaceutical companies has the same priorities. No money in saving african peoples lives but lots of money in selling life long medication for life-style illnesses in the rich western world.
            • by dusik ( 239139 ) on Monday June 26, 2006 @09:35AM (#15605065) Homepage
              >> "...Who is going to really remember Microsoft and their business practices 50 years from now if the Gates' money finds a cure for malaria, AIDS, or even better...Alzheimers, diabetes, or the flu?"

              No, if they find a cure for Alzheimers then surely the public *will* remember! ;)
        • by maxume ( 22995 ) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @09:50PM (#15602995)
          I was thinking more along the lines of his influence on the stock market. He will be free to do things without worrying so much about how other people react to what he does. So maybe he gets a little bit of room to breathe in his old age. Maybe.
      • by vux984 ( 928602 ) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @11:21PM (#15603289)
        Warren Buffet is known to disagree with "inheritence". He beleives that wealth should be redistributed not passed on to family members. In fact to paraphrase something I read about him once, he wants to leave his own children enough that they be able to do what they want with their lives, but not so much that they can choose to do nothing with them.

        In other words, its clear he's always planned on ensuring they would be taken care of, but I don't think he ever planned on simply leaving them his billions.

        A charitable foundation is probably the most effective way to spread his wealth around. The Gate's foundation is very well respected in spite of its link to Microsoft.

        Warren Buffet has nothing but my respect for this move. Not only is it noble, but he's sticking with his long stated principles.

    • by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @06:25PM (#15602205)
      Another interesting tie-in with current events is the recent near-miss to eliminate the death tax []. One argument in favor of the death tax is that it promotes charity by the elderly in order to avoid the tax.

      Now, personally, I think the death tax is the most fair tax possible. You can't take it with you anyways, and your heirs didn't earn it.

  • seriously (Score:4, Insightful)

    by FFON ( 266696 ) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @04:36PM (#15601768) Homepage
    this is fucking awesome
  • Awesome... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 25, 2006 @04:37PM (#15601771)
    "The man who dies thus rich, dies disgraced,"

    --Andrew Carnegie
  • by Philomathie ( 937829 ) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @04:39PM (#15601779)
    I'd never pay that much to get into the Guiness Book of Records
  • No free rides (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Valacosa ( 863657 ) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @04:41PM (#15601785)
    From Wikipedia:
    "He is opposed to the transfer of great fortunes from one generation to the next."
    That's a stand-up man, right there. It's a sign he believes everyone should earn their own fortune, no free rides - even for his own children.

    Bravo, sir.
    • Re:No free rides (Score:5, Insightful)

      by psychofox ( 92356 ) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @05:09PM (#15601925)
      You haven't quite got his stance right.

      From the article, he says

      "I still believe in the philosophy - FORTUNE quoted me saying this 20 years ago - that a very rich person should leave his kids enough to do anything but not enough to do nothing."

      A great quote, I think.

      [The FORTUNE article was "Should You Leave It All to the Children?" Sept. 29, 1986.]
    • Re:No free rides (Score:5, Interesting)

      by yfnET ( 834882 ) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @05:23PM (#15601986) Homepage
      “Although the United States is seen as a world of opportunity, the reality may be different. Some studies have shown that it is easier for poorer children to rise through society in many European countries than in America. There is a particular fear about the engine of American meritocracy, its education system. Only 3% of students at top colleges come from the poorest quarter of the population. Poor children are trapped in dismal schools, while richer parents spend ever more cash on tutoring their offspring.”


      Leaders / The United States []

      Inequality and the American Dream
      Jun 15th 2006
      From The Economist print edition

      The world’s most impressive economic machine needs a little adjusting

      IMAGE []

      MORE than any other country, America defines itself by a collective dream: the dream of economic opportunity and upward mobility. Its proudest boast is that it offers a chance of the good life to everybody who is willing to work hard and play by the rules. This ideal has made the United States the world’s strongest magnet for immigrants; it has also reconciled ordinary Americans to the rough side of a dynamic economy, with all its inequalities and insecurities. Who cares if the boss earns 300 times more than the average working stiff, if the stiff knows he can become the boss?

      Look around the world and the supremacy of “the American model” might seem assured. No other rich country has so successfully harnessed the modern juggernauts of technology and globalisation. The hallmarks of American capitalism—a willingness to take risks, a light regulatory touch and sharp competition—have spawned enormous wealth. “This economy is powerful, productive and prosperous,” George Bush boasted recently, and by many yardsticks he is right. Growth is fast, unemployment is low and profits are fat. It is hardly surprising that so many other governments are trying to “Americanise” their economies—whether through the European Union’s Lisbon Agenda or Japan’s Koizumi reforms.

      Yet many people feel unhappy about the American model—not least in the United States. Only one in four Americans believes the economy is in good shape. While firms’ profits have soared, wages for the typical worker have barely budged. The middle class—admittedly a vague term in America—feels squeezed. A college degree is no longer a passport to ever-higher pay. Now politicians are playing on these fears. From the left, populists complain about Mr Bush’s plutocratic friends exporting jobs abroad; from the right, nativists howl about immigrants wrecking the system.

      A global argument
      The debate about the American model echoes far beyond the nation’s shores. Europeans have long held that America does not look after its poor—a prejudice reinforced by the ghastly scenes after Hurricane Katrina. The sharp decline in America’s image abroad has much to do with foreign policy, but Americanisation has also become synonymous with globalisation. Across the rich world, global competition is forcing economies to become more flexible, often increasing inequality; Japan is one example (see article []). The logic of many non-Americans is that if globalisation makes their economy more like America’s, and the American model is defective, then free trade and open markets must be bad.

      This debate mixes up three arguments—about inequality, meritocracy and immigration. The word that America should worry about most is the one you hear least—meritocracy.

      Begin with inequality. The flip-side of America’s economic dynamism is that it has become more unequal—but in a more complex way than fir
  • Regardless (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ( 782137 ) <joe AT joe-baldwin DOT net> on Sunday June 25, 2006 @04:42PM (#15601793) Homepage Journal
    Regardless of any comments about the B&MG foundation or Buffet's motives... ...Jesus Christ, nice going Warren.
  • by JebusIsLord ( 566856 ) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @04:43PM (#15601794)
    I sincerely applaud Both Bill and Warren for their recent contributions. This is SO important, because they will set an example for other wealthy individuals. When the rich (and that means most of us in the West) start to realize that giving(rather than flaunting) wealth garners the most prestige, the world will be a far better place. Bravo!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 25, 2006 @04:44PM (#15601800)
    Mark 12: 41-44

    41 And he sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the multitude putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums.
    42 And a poor widow came, and put in two copper coins, which make a penny.
    43 And he called his disciples to him, and said to them, "Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury.
    44 For they all contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, her whole living."
    • by 3l1za ( 770108 ) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @04:59PM (#15601875)
      This passage is not meant to deride those who have earned much and given generously (as the parent seems to intend for it to do); it is intended to countermand society's view (throughout history, in all of society) which respects those who have power (which in many cases == money) and looked down absolutely upon those of modest means despite whether they are persons of great honor, dignity, and heart.

      Certainly if those who have attained great wealth have done so via exploiting others then those wealthy deserve derision. But merely to be successful and powerful is not an indictment. The old camel-through-the-eye-of-a-needle quote is often misinterpreted in the same way. The meaning of that passage is to point out that with wealth comes great power and with great power comes great temptation. So if you don't have the wealth/power, it may be easier for you to live a clean/good life (i.e. to pass into heaven).
      • by Sentry21 ( 8183 ) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @08:16PM (#15602662) Journal
        I think the parent poster brings up an interesting point though, about charity vs. sacrifice

        If I were to give away 85% of MY worth, I'd be homeless and relying on the charity of others. Mr. Buffet does not have that problem. He can donate billions and not suffer. because there comes a point at which having more money just means a higher number. If I had ten million dollars, I could do a lot. If I had twenty million, I could do a little more. If I had a billion, I could do pretty much anything I'd want to do. If I had ten billion, or a hundred, would anything change? What does $30 billion get me that $20 billion doesn't?

        His donation is fantastic, and I'm staggered, but he does not suffer as a result of giving this gift. All this means is a lower number in a computer somewhere, and that's it. His charity is outstanding, but his sacrifice is non-existent.

        What the bible passage quoted is trying to say is that it is sacrifice we should truly applaud, because giving of yourself is far more difficult and far more noble than giving what you have left over, and in the end, that is all Mr. Buffet is doing - giving away what he has left over.
  • Sensible CEO salary (Score:5, Interesting)

    by NexusTw1n ( 580394 ) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @04:46PM (#15601807) Journal
    Interesting that a guy who clearly has a serious talent for generating wealth, only asks for $100,000 per annum salary.

    Puts the salaries of other less talented CEOs who demand far larger pay packets into perspective doesn't it?
  • by Quiberon ( 633716 ) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @04:50PM (#15601830) Journal
    It's his right to do as he pleases. But donating to the Bill and Melinda show puts rather a lot of financial muscle in one place; with that kind of money he could have established his own foundation, for an independent view of things. Is the Bill and Melinda Foundation able to act in ways which might be other than in the interest of Microsoft ? For example, how would a funding request from Free Software Foundation, or Electronic Freedom Foundation, go down ?
    • by koreth ( 409849 ) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @05:16PM (#15601954)
      He considered establishing (or rather, expanding) his own foundation, but after looking at what that would take, decided that giving the money to the Gates Foundation would be more effective. That's all in the article, which you might want to check out.

      The Gates Foundation is mostly funding public health initiatives of various sorts at the moment. So the FSF and EFF would probably not fare any better than they would if they tried to get money from the Red Cross or the American Cancer Society.
    • by posterlogo ( 943853 ) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @05:34PM (#15602021)
      The Bill and Melinda Gates foundation is not there to help well off people develop software. One of its biggest aims is to stop the spread of HIV. The fact that Bill gates is also affiliated with M$ should not skew your views of his foundation, it is an independent entity. So to sum up, a funding request from FSF or EFF would be soundly rejected, as that nothing to do with HIV, or halting the development of nuclear weapons, etc.
    • by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @09:40PM (#15602960)
      One common - or at least I've encountered it a few times - criticism of the Gates foundation is their funding for AIDS medicines. Instead of funding the development of in-country production facilities to make AIDS medicines for local distribution, they fund the purchase of western manufactured medicines.

      The criticism comes from the fact that most 2nd and 3rd world countries disregard western medical patents and pay no royalties to "Big Pharma" in the West. By ignoring such patents, the same money buys signficantly more locally produced drugs than it does imported drugs from the West.

      So by purchasing drugs from the West, the Gates foundation is supporting a questionable intellectual property rights system that itself directly benefits Microsoft at the expense of the people whom the charity is suppossed to be serving.

      The obvious response that "Big Pharma" would never invest in the development of such drugs without incentives of royalties is hard to evaluate. Some would argue that there are enough patients in the West to pay for the development, and that without the charity money, the 3rd world would make no purchases anyway. But when the charity gets to be the size of Gates Foundation, it is possible (I really don't know either way) that "Big Pharma" would factor in the charitable purchases as part of the expected return on investment in new drugs.

      Whatever the case, it is at least an interesting criticism of the Gates Foundation's policies with respect to intellectual property law and Microsoft's indirect benefit.
  • by rifftide ( 679288 ) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @05:01PM (#15601883)
    Gates is an avid card player so he might even appreciate the analogy. He's done some evil things, but it came out all right in the end because he's donating practically all his winnings to charity, and doing so at a relatively young age. Had he not been so greedy and obsessed, a much broader spectrum of people in the software business might have become wealthy or affluent, and we would undoubtedly have had a more interesting marketplace ecology in the personal computing business over the past 15 years. But I doubt that the incremental contributions to charity would have had nearly the same impact that Gates and Buffett are making now.

    He and Buffett will be remembered as great Americans for their charity, while his past role as founder and leader of Microsoft will be debated for decades.
  • by __aadkms7016 ( 29860 ) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @05:20PM (#15601976)

    One of the strengths of the US academic science funding model is that the government tends hedge its bets by setting up multiple agencies with overlapping agendas. For example, in engineering, there's DARPA, there's the NSF, several of the armed forces have their own quasi-independent funding arms, larger states like California have significant grant programs, etc.

    Yes, there is the inefficiency of duplicated administration costs. But the upside is, a truly good idea has a better chance of finding funding, even if the program manager at one of the agencies is not sold on the idea. This lessons the risk of a game-changing idea going unfunded.

    Buffet would have been better off setting up an independent foundation making independent funding decisions, rather than doubling BMGs bets, especially since BMG really has enough money to pursue multiple large goals.

  • Just One Problem (Score:5, Interesting)

    by istartedi ( 132515 ) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @05:58PM (#15602105) Journal

    While Warren may trust Bill and Melinda to use the money wisely (he is older and probably anticipates dying before them), what happens when Bill and Melinda are gone too? What do we end up with? Well, we could end up with another Ford Foundation. In other words, it could end up straying from some of the common-sense approaches applied now, such as distributing mosquito nets to prevent malaria. It could degenerate into an organization with a questionable agenda, or an organization that simply parcels out donations to other orgs, the primary results of which are (though probably not intentionally) to finance the lifestyles of the "chattering class" in Washington DC and various other world capitols. So, Bill and Melinda, while you still have time, you need to figure out a way to keep that from happening. Poor people can't eat UN studies, and no "blue ribbon commission" ever swatted a single mosquito. When the visionaries pass on, it's inevitable that the committees take over. Maybe that's why Carnegie built libraries in his own lifetime. Today, many are still in use, and there's only so much lunacy that can take place in a building, whereas a monied organization can create no end of politically-oriented drivel.

    • by BSDevil ( 301159 ) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @06:49PM (#15602311) Journal
      As this is Slashdot, I suppose it's too much to ask for people to RTFA []...

      But if you did, you'd see that two of the conditions of the gift deal with this - specifically
      First, at least one of you [BillG or MelG] must remain alive and active in the policy-setting and administration of BMG.


      And, finally, the value of my annual gift must be fully additive to the spending of at least 5% of the Foundation's net assets...BMG's annual giving must be at least equal to the value of my previous year's gift plus 5% of BMG's net assets.

      Meaning that the gifts to the Foundation only keep going while one of the Gateses keeps running the thing, and that they have to spend all of each gift (plus 5% of whatever else they have) each year, to prevent them from keeping it.
  • What sad... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by stubear ( 130454 ) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @07:02PM (#15602371)
    ...little pathetic, hate filled lives you people lead. A man gives away a vast fortune and all you people can do is complain about how that's not really all that much. $37,000,000,000 is going to help a lot of people in third world countries. Oh, I'm sorry, you're bitter that he didn't donate the money to the EFF or the FSF to fund your little pet projects.
  • by mkiwi ( 585287 ) on Sunday June 25, 2006 @07:04PM (#15602374)
    In light of recent positive karma-related events, I propose we change the Slashdot Microsoft Icon from "Bill Gates as a Borg" to "Steven Balmer Throwing a Chair."

    You heard it here first.

  • by Afty0r ( 263037 ) on Monday June 26, 2006 @04:27AM (#15604062) Homepage
    Just Thank You

I've noticed several design suggestions in your code.