Posted by Media Outrage on August 5th, 2010
Bill Gates and Warren Buffett were ridin’ hard a few years ago to try and convince more US billionaires to give away their fortunes to charity and now it seems as though that campaign has caught on with the masses. Peep game…
A little over a year after Bill Gates and Warren Buffett began hatching a plan over dinner to persuade America’s wealthiest people to give most of their fortunes to charity, more than three-dozen individuals and families have agreed to take part, campaign organizers announced Wednesday.
In addition to Buffett and Gates — America’s two wealthiest individuals, with a combined net worth of $90 billion, according to Forbes — 38 other billionaires have signed The Giving Pledge. They include New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, entertainment executive Barry Diller, Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison, energy tycoon T. Boone Pickens, media mogul Ted Turner, David Rockefeller, film director George Lucas and investor Ronald Perelman.
“We’re off to a terrific start,” Buffett, co-founder and chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, said in a conference call also attended by Bloomberg and San Francisco hedge-fund manager Tom Steyer and his wife Kat Taylor, founder of OneCalifornia Bank.
Buffett said he and Gates, the Microsoft co-founder, and Gates’ wife Melinda made calls to fellow billionaires on the Forbes 400 list of wealthiest Americans — in many cases, people they had never met — to try to persuade them to join the giving pledge.
“We contacted between 70 and 80 people to get the 40. A few were unavailable. We don’t give up on them. Every saint has a past, every sinner has a future. We’ll keep on working,” Buffett said.
Bloomberg, who made the bulk of his estimated $17.5 billion fortune from financial news and information services company Bloomberg L.P., said it didn’t make sense to leave everything to his children and have them go through life as members of “the lucky sperm club.”
“You don’t want to leave them so much money that it ruins their lives,” Bloomberg said. “You want kids who can look back and say, ‘Yeah my family helped me but I did something on my own.’”
Added Steyer: “We need to support each other. I look at this as replanting your garden so that future generations will have a full bounty of crops.”
The United States has roughly 400 billionaires — about 40 percent of the world’s total — with a combined net worth of $1.2 trillion, according to Forbes. If they all took the pledge, that would amount to at least $600 billion for charity.
The 40 names that have pledged to date have a combined net worth surpassing $230 billion,
according to Forbes. Several of them have said they plan to give away much more than 50 percent of their wealth. Buffett has promised to donate more than 99 percent of his wealth.
The pledge is a moral commitment to give, not a legal contract. It does not involve pooling money or supporting one cause or organization. It’s up to each person who signs the pledge how to divvy up their wealth.
Mediaoutrage- That’s good business.