Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland until I return to the Murcia region of Spain in the Autumn for a month or so
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Monday, 26 June 2006

Bill and Melinda and Warren talk in a question answer conference

I was startled a few years ago when I learned that Bill Gates and his wife Melinda had set up the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, with funding that was almost beyond the comprehension of someone who is only moderately 'well off'. This morning I had another of those moments of startlement when I heard that 'The Sage of Omaha', Warren Buffett (the man behind Berhshire Hathaway, one share in which costs - well a lot!), is planning to give 85 per cent of his personal wealth to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to further its ends. I've read for some years that Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are close friends, but this is a very public and wonderful example of how close that relationship and trust must be. Bill and Melinda have so far given a considerable proportion of his/their own wealth to their foundation and Mr Buffett's donation will roughly double the funds it has at its disposal from what I can gather. Here is a link to a live webcast where Bill and Warren talk before a [presumably] invited audience about what governs their charitable thinking (in case that no longer works, here is a link to a statement on the Foundation website by Bill and Melinda Gates). I know that some people think that great personal wealth is not necessarily a 'good thing' - I am most certainly not one of those people. I think it is quite wonderful that some very wealthy people (particularly in the US, and only partly because of their very sensibly-organised tax regime in this area) consider it not only a duty, but a privilege, to return to the wider world in a practical way some of the good fortune with which their lives have been blessed - and I am just listening to Melinda Gates talking about their gift to Warren of a copy of 'The Wealth of Nations'' by Adam Smith.
(thru virtualmatter.blogspot.com, in turn thru QueerFilter.)

UPDATE: (Tuesday 27JUN06 10.10 BST) The New York Times today carries an article on Warren Buffett's donation to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation - it makes interesting reading:


'He gets particularly upset at his country club, he said, hearing members complain about welfare mothers getting food stamps "while they are trying to leave their children a more-than-lifetime-supply of food stamps and are substituting a trust officer for a welfare officer."

To widespread applause, he smiled and asked: "Is there anyone I forgot to insult?" '

- not only a savvy investor, but a wit as well.

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