Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Warren’s Gift

An interesting, positive news article out today. Capitalism is often seen as a heartless enterprise, and the men who run it are quite frequently vilified as people who do not care about their fellow men, who pursue the dollar over everything and everyone else. With a lot of people, this comparison is not entirely unjustified. Capitalism can make a slave out of a person, beholden to shareholder profits and the bottom line. And most people are happy keeping that money for themselves, to be sorted away however they best see fit, or left to their inheritance.

Which is why it is so refreshing to see the two most powerful men in the world partner up to help out. The Gates Foundation has been well-established as a global leader in aiding health and educational concerns across the globe. But now, Warren Buffet, the second wealthiest man in the world (right behind Gates himself), has stated that he is going to donate $31billion, of his $44billion fortune, to the Gates Foundation. That is unprecedented in terms of scale of donation. It is huge. The Gates’ were ecstatically humble, Melinda stating, “Bill and I are absolutely honored and humbled by Warren's gift. It is unprecedented in terms of what we can do to do good in this world. It is something we take very seriously. We have an incredible responsibility. To give away your own wealth is one thing but to give away the body of some body else's work is something else.” Warren himself tried to play off the charity as a business decision, but inevitably it comes down to good deeds, and his is a big one.

Warren should stand as a shining example, as Gates does already, as to how one should use his or her wealth in the world. People who have gained so much through their own hard work and determination, are now prepared to give something back to this world. That sort of generosity is enlightening, and something everyone should strive for. Now, not everyone has $15billion that they can live off of and donate the rest. That is understood. But there are people out there who are better off than most, quite a few of you. You know who you are, those who have luxury items and money burning in the bank. And even if they did raise themselves up by their own bootstraps, they should take time and recognize for what they are using their excess money. Is it frittering away in a bank? Put it to use. Not political contributions, not stock options, but true benefits that are tangible and attainable.

We all stand to learn something from this example, of how even the most stereotypical capitalists is at heart socially conscious and caring. Of how one of the biggest money men of our day, like Getty, Kellogg, and Ford of the past, still aspires to make the world a better place, and is willing to put his money where his mouth is.

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