Buffett’s billions

Investor Warren Buffett is giving away 85 percent of his fortune, estimated at $44 billion to five foundations, Fortune reports Five-sixths of the money will go to the $30 billion Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The Gateses credit Buffett, says Bill, with having “inspired” their thinking about giving money back to society. Their foundation’s activities, internationally famous, are focused on world health — fighting such diseases as malaria, HIV/AIDS, and tuberculosis — and on improving U.S. libraries and high schools.

That’s a huge increase in funding for education. It represents the largest gift in philanthropic history. Buffett had said for years he’d give most of his fortune to philanthropy after his death, but decided to do it while he’s still alive.

My father knew Buffett many years ago — they’re both from Omaha — and had a chance to invest in one of Buffett’s first funds. My father said, “No thanks, Warren. I’ve got a family to support. I don’t have any extra money right now.” Oh, well.

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  1. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Does this not constitute tax evasion? Buffett and Gates both oppose elimination of the death tax, yet they have put their fortunes beyond reach of the tax collectors. Think of all the good government could do with half of both their fortunes. Selfishly, they are both making themselves arbitors of what is good. Now for a 5% management fee – nah, they’ll outlive me just for spite.

  2. ucladavid says:

    They are being selfish. Think of all the good government they could do with their money? GIVE ME A BREAK!!! They are giving most of their money away for good causes. Plus, shouldn’t they decide where most of their money is going? They are being true charity givers and shows all the good things that businessmen could do.

  3. Half Canadian says:

    Which has alleviated more poverty, the Ford Foundation or the Ford Motor Corporation?

    I agree that charitable giving is nice, but creating wealth the old fashioned way (ie, building a business) should not be discounted.

    Kudos for Buffett on giving his money away, but is it wrong for business owners to keep their wealth? After all, I hope to work for (or sell to) a rich person someday.

  4. The other nice thing about a family foundation is that your kids need never work. Buffett has kids who work at their own foundation.
    But I don’t believe that the gov’t can do any good with his money.

  5. Robert Wright says:

    I thought, oh, OK, the Gates Foundation gives money to education so I looked them up on the web so I could fill out a grant application.

    The one little piece of technology I’d like in my classroom is an overhead projector. I haven’t had one in 7 years. When you teach 7th grade, it’s nice to write something so the class can see it without turning your back.

    But the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation doesn’t take grant applications from 7th grade teachers.

    The whole problem with this news item today is that it’s Warren and not Jimmy. With 31 billion dollars, I could have my dog elected president and after a few margaritas, Jimmy would at least listen to my letter of inquiry–if I read it to him.

    And there would be enough money left over for an overhead. The cheap ones cost about $275.

    Buffet should have given the 31 billion to Steve Jobs instead of Bill Gates.

    Not that I think Jobs would give me an overhead; I don’t even know if he has a chartible foundation. But at least it would have been more interesting.

    Giving money that kind of money to Bill Gates is like building a nuclear power plant in Newcastle.
    It seems strange.

  6. The reason’s supposed to be that Buffett didn’t want to be bothered setting up a foundation, his wife was going to do that. But, she died before she could start the foundation and Buffett decided to let the Gates’ handle disbursal his money.

  7. Walter E. Wallis says:

    So Buffett knows best how to spend his money but I don’t? That is almost the only reason for government, to spend out money to benefit us other than we would spend it ourselves. Every tax evader has better things to do with his money than the government. Comment on my comment on the death tax.

  8. “Does this not constitute tax evasion?”

    Now now, it’s not tax EVASION: it’s tax AVOIDANCE. The only difference, of course, being that the former is completely legal.

  9. Er, the latter, I meant. Really. The IRS doesn’t read this, right? I hope? 😉