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Monday, November 12, 2007

Buffett's Philanthropy

This was a story of last year, but it keeps resonating in my head whenever the name comes up.
Buffett donates $37bn to charity

Warren Buffett says he was "wired at birth to allocate capital"

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett has said he was waiting for decades to make a huge charitable donation.

He said he was overjoyed as he spoke for the first time since revealing he would donate about $37bn (£20bn) to Bill Gates' charitable foundation.

"This has been coming for 50 years," Mr Buffett said. "There's never really been any other plan in terms of where the money should go."

The donation is thought to be the largest charitable gift ever in the US.

We've seen Forbes' world's richest, but wouldn't it be a better idea if they publish "The World's Biggest Givers"? I think it's time to give more credit to those who have the biggest of hearts. Secondly, if a wealthy guy is in the richest list but not in the top givers' list, wouldn't he feel obliged to give away more to charity?

If you can't take it with you, you might as well buy yourself immortality. The rich are admirable, but philanthropists are sublime.

Now, I got fresher news (as fresh as June 2007), but before that, allow me a brief intro... When we talk about bridging the gap between the rich and the poor, the answer seems very simple: just distribute wealth more evenly. I think that's the concept that socialism is built upon (if kids ruled the Earth, that would be called "sharing"). For capitalist economies, however, that couldn't be done. Capitalism says, to be fair we must reward the smart and the hardworking. Unfortunately, such a system has a downside: it promotes wealth inequality.

So, why not higher taxes for the rich? Robin Hood legitimately taking money from the rich to give to the poor? Not really exactly new.

But what's more interesting is, Mr. Buffett seems to have found some flaws in US tax laws which uncovers that the average Joe seem to be paying at higher rates. If you're in the Forbes 400, you will hate the following article. If you're not, you probably won't like it too. Looks like the playing field isn't that level.

Warren Buffett: Tax the Rich!

Warren Buffett's cry of 'tax the rich!' is being heard across the Atlantic. Warren Buffett Watch highlighted his comments to CNBC's Brian Shactman the other night, in which he said the gap between the 15% tax rate for public partnerships and the 35% rate for public corporations seemed "illogical." (That's become one of the more contentious issues in Washington following Blackstone's big IPO.)

In his appearance at Hillary Clinton's fund-raiser later that same night, he spoke more generally, in effect complaining that he, and very rich people like him, should be paying a higher percentage of their income in taxes.

You really have to admire Mr. Buffett's altruism.

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