Warren Buffett, Bill and Melinda Gates, and the Future
Compassion and Wealth Together
Given the last post on this blog, this weeks announcement of the astoundingly magnanimous and generous gift that Warren Buffett made to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is worthy of comment. Simply put, Warren Buffett, the second wealthiest man in the United States, after Bill Gates, gave more than 80% of his total net worth or, $31 billion dollars to his friend Billâ€™s foundation. This is more than doubles the size of the Gates Foundation which, at $30 billion was three times larger than the next biggest foundation.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation focuses on grants that will end the top twenty diseases in the world and on grants to education and libraries. Melinda Gates has said that her fondest dream is an AIDS vaccine. The foundationsâ€™ goal to end disease and promote education for poor people, in particular, and the world in general, are two things absolutely essential for humanity to accomplish as we move forward on our evolutionary journey. As we all move from national and group to global orientation, it is increasingly essential that we try to lift up all those on the globe that want to participate but canâ€™t. This is not just altruism but a good strategy for species survival. The Information Age has shown us that as networks grow in size and numbers, they take on more value and provide greater value. So with humanity as it gets increasingly connected and increasingly takes on a global awareness. Synergism in its largest possible form.
â€œThere are no passengers on Spaceship Earth, we are all crewâ€ – Marshall McLuhan.
It is the responsibility of all of us to be crew. It is much harder to be crew if millions or billions cannot be crew because they canâ€™t participate in the crew activity due to lack of health or lack of education. This quote also points to the fact that it is the responsibility of all of us on this precious planet to act as crew and not just temporary, indulgent tourists. That is why Buffettâ€™s gift is so important. Here is one of the most respected, wealthy men on the planet, setting an example. There are tens of thousands of wealthy business people who admire Warren Buffett. If even a small fraction of them follow the lead of Buffett, charitable giving will soar.
I particularly like some of Buffettâ€™s comments around his action: â€œA market system has not worked in terms of poor peopleâ€ Referring to inherited wealth he said â€œI donâ€™t believe in dynastic wealthâ€ calling those who grow up in wealthy circumstances â€œmembers of the lucky sperm clubâ€. He has been clear all along that the estate tax should stay in place as it promotes extremely wealthy people to donate great portions of their wealth to charity. Buffett is walking his talk in a historic way and as a result, possibly millions of lives will be saved from an early death, millions of lives will change because of exposure to education and access to libraries and human suffering will decrease. If, in fact, cures for diseases can be directly traced to this huge bequest, if people can create and invent for the benefit of humanity due to the education they obtained because of this gift, then Warren Buffettâ€™s gift to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will judged as a historically significant event as we enter these incredibly important and potentially decisive times for humanity.