Philanthropy

Don Dodge writes that Warren Buffet is donating a considerable chunk of his $44bn fortune to Bill and Melinda gates foundation.

Warren Buffet, the second richest man in the world, announced he is giving the vast majority of his $44 Billion dollar fortune to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. I said in an earlier post that "Bill Gates legacy will be humanitarian philanthropy". Microsoft was the result of his first 30 years of work. In his remaining years, Gates is just 50, philanthropy will be his main mission.

That's an amazing coupe for Gates and something that, well regardless of your stand on Microsoft, you can just like the man for it. Dodge also makes another interesting point:

Gates takes a business like approach to solving human problems. He is serious about producing real results with minimal overhead costs. Compare this to the way the US government or United Nations, or Red Cross, approach problems. The bureaucracy and overhead is ridiculous. They talk forever and get nothing done.

This is an idea close to my heart. I firmly believe that a pound spent by government is, often, a £0.95 wasted. But why is it only the first and second wealthiest men in the world that get to be philanthropists? What about the rest of us?

I think the problem for us is that we find so much of our wealth swallowed by taxes that are used to fund unpopular wars, ineffective programs, and to support chums of the ruling party. I think a lot of us see the foreign aid budget and, looking at our pocket books, think "I gave." And we did.

When charities come a calling what you choose to give on top of what the government liberates from you might hurt.

As an aside I think it is bluntly wrong of charities to use psychological tactics like gift-giving to pressure people into donating. No matter what your cause, unethical behaviour like manipulating people, cannot, in my book, be right. I also don't appreciate the aggressive doorstep tactics that many charity workers seem to have adopted.

I think the answer is to reduce taxation and allow people to decide how they want to be philanthropists. Government should not be about charity and giving away our money to the problem de jour in order to win favourable headlines for the ruling party is not ethical behaviour.

I'd rather give to the Gates Foundation.

26/06/2006 09:56 by Matt Mower | Permalink | comments: