Are the Billionaires, that are now becoming philanthropist, doing such great deeds because they look good out there in the giving land? If you wipe all that kindness away is it still business as usual? It is as if the idea of the super-rich cannot come without the price of being super sociopathic.
In the case of the billionaire phenomenon “Giving Pledge”, forty of the richest people and families have followed the lead of both Bill Gates and Warren Buffett and contributed to this worldwide philanthropic enterprise.
But with the earth entering into, what some scientists are calling, a sixth mass extinction; the income gap widening; budget cuts and social departments closing; tax incentives only for the very rich and still have legal offshore bank accounts to hide profits; how is this so called “Giving Pledge” really going to give.
The multinational corporations included in this initiative, are still running their businesses in the same old fashion. They still are running their companies from countries with weak labour laws and therefore, cheaper labour. The term “sweat shop” is embroidered in most of our clothing and shoes. Some of these corporations are still getting away with dumping, polluting, and destruction of forests and oceans. Some of these mega rich people are still taking home more than their share of profits, causing a gaping void in pay parity.
All Giving Pledgers avoid all federal estate taxes on the money they leave to charity. As they can give to which charity they choose and the pledge can be a gift or bequest to a family-controlled private foundation. There are many decent and commendable organizations, people and businesses involved and then there are some that aren’t. Mr. Buffett and Mr. Gates have both spoke out to support the federal estate tax. While, light of the Clinton Foundation shady dealings, we know that some family foundations are not squeaky clean.
Is there anyone, of the mega-rich, that are actually doing something for society and the world without reaping the benefits? Thankfully, Yes! Why don’t we hear more about them? Are they really that humble? Let’s take a look…
- George Soros – Holocaust survivor. Left Hungary for England and made his fortune as an investor. He started giving scholarships to black students in South Africa during the apartheid. His Open Society Foundations work in over 100 countries and promote human rights.
- Azim Premji – One of the richest people in India. Made his money in software. His charities focus on education and improving the lives of children and the disabled in India. He has already given away 63% of his wealth.
- Chuck Feeney – Made his money in Duty Free Shops. Was one of the richest people but is happily nearly broke! Happy gives his money away to education, human rights and health.
- Ted Turner – Media giant. He states that his children won’t inherit much. He gave away $1 billion dollars to the United Nations. He still has more to give!
- K. Rowling – She doesn’t need an introduction. First writer to become a billionaire. She gave almost $160 million dollars to various charities, focusing on women and children, that it knocked her off the billionaires list.
- Leonardo DiCaprio – He isn’t just really good looking!Taking home some of the largest actor payouts he then turns around and donates almost $20 million dollars in grants to conservation and human rights organizations.
- Paul Allen – The other Microsoft guy. Has given away $700 million to community developments, social change, and technological innovations.
- Richard Branson – Virgin Group Founder. Uses his foundation, Virgin Unite, to tackle carbon emissions, environmental protection and conflict resolution.
What traits do the above people share? They both are innovative business leaders and moral leaders. Billionaires and corporations with less integrity have an imbalance of profit and morality. It always seems that profit trumps morality. These industries may cause more pollution, may sit on the backs of cheap labour, influence politicians and lobbyists, all to better promote their profit schemes. That may also include how they donate to charities. The true meaning of Philanthropy means the love of humanity. It doesn’t include tax cuts, influencing others nor furthering the feeling of superiority. For those of the very wealthy that are truly giving your money away to help in this world, we humbly thank you.
Sources: Open Democracy, Lorenzo Fioramonti, August 2010
OUPblog, Edward A. Zelinsky, July 2015