On Wednesday, the Giving Pledge -- a movement spearheaded by Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates -- revealed the names of 40 individuals and families who are taking up the challenge to give away at least half of their net worth during their lifetime or at death. Along with a commitment, the philanthropists all posted a letter explaining why they were taking the plunge. Analyzing their remarks offers a rare glimpse into the minds of the richest of the rich: how they view their fortunes and where they think their money should go after they die.
The most common philosophy: That a life of monetary excess can be an empty life if the wealth does nothing to advance a greater cause.
This seems pretty neat right? And I certainly don't disagree with the rich donating their money to charity.
And right now, with the economy the way it is (and state governments hemorrhaging money and Congress fighting over how to pay for unemployment extenstions) it's certainly not a bad idea for the wealthy to be donating their money (and it's certainly good PR).
Salute Buffett who says his children won't inherit "a significant proportion" of his wealth. The filthy rich, or some of them, have shown they have a heart.
But let's be clear. Money paid to charity is exempt from tax; the US treasury already loses at least $40bn (£25bn) a year from tax breaks for donations. So billionaires, not the democratically elected and (at least theoretically) accountable representatives of the people, get to decide on the good causes.
we should welcome the Gates-Buffett initiative and applaud those who have joined it. Generous, public-spirited billionaires are preferable to mean ones. But remember that two-thirds of US corporations contrive to pay no federal income tax at all and that transfer pricing alone – a legal device, used, for instance, by Ellison's Oracle Corp, that converts sales in one country to profits in another where tax liabilities are low – deprives the US treasury of $60bn annually. Such sums, which pile more taxes on the poor and reduce funds for government projects that advance the public good, dwarf what the 40 billionaires propose to give away.
If the rich really wish to create a better world, they can sign another pledge: to pay their taxes on time and in full; to stop lobbying against taxation and regulation; to avoid creating monopolies; to give their employees better wages, pensions, job protection and working conditions; to make goods and use production methods that don't kill or maim or damage the environment or make people ill. When they put their names to that, there will be occasion not just for applause but for street parties.
Exactly. With the government trying to figure out how to pay for school teachers, cops and firefighters (and their pensions) and California looking to (gasp!) legalize pot, the billionaires could help a lot by just paying their taxes. (I dunno, if these guys can afford to give away have their money, I'm pretty sure they can afford higher taxes).
I know, it's weird. But taxes pay for stuff. Like bridges (remember that bridge that collapsed in Minnesota? There's 756 more that received the same grade) and libraries and schools and a whole bunch of things that are important. Unfortunately, we seem to be going the other way.
And sure, it's easy for me to say "hey, just tax the rich" but ya know what? They're fucking rich. Tax them at 90% and they're still be way richer than myself. They can still be rich and we can have pensions for teachers.