Billionaires Giving Back

VIDEO: Billionairs on the Economy
Share
Copy

In a special Thanksgiving edition of "This Week," some of the world's richest people sat down with Christiane Amanpour to talk about their extraordinary Giving Pledge -- a commitment to give the majority of their wealth away through philanthropy. Warren Buffett, Bill and Melinda Gates, Ted Turner and others delved into the meaning of philanthropy, their moral obligation to give back and the future of the country in which each of them reached the heights of prosperity.

The Giving Pledge

Having a lot of money doesn't mean it's easy to give it away intelligently, a handful of the world's richest people told Amanpour.

"Everybody who's rich has considered it," Ted Turner, the founder of CNN said. "It's just a question of whether they do it or not because it's so much easier not to do it."

For Buffett, the choice to give was easy, the execution was difficult. "The question was how to do it. And it's much easier to make it than it is to give it away intelligently," said Buffett, the Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway.

Spearheaded by Gates and Buffett, the Giving Pledge "is an effort to invite the wealthiest individuals and families in America to commit to giving the majority of their wealth to philanthropic causes," according to its founding statement.

Bill Gates explained that philanthropy was contagious. More than 40 people have already signed on to the Giving Pledge, and others are expected to join in the coming months.

"There's a certain momentum in terms of the more you hear about other people doing giving, it will encourage you to do more," Bill Gates said. "And certainly all of us who got involved have been inspired by each other's stories, and that rededicates us to getting this money to have the most positive impact."

Buffett, who will be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, early next year, said that giving was an obligation but also just made sense.

"I've got everything I possibly need," Buffett said. "I've got a whole bunch of what I call claim checks on society. Little stock certificates. They sit in a box and have been there for 40 years. They can't do anything for me," he said, but "they can do a lot for other people if intelligently used."

Spending to Make a Healthier, Smarter, Safer World

In 2006, Buffett pledged 10 million shares of Berkshire Hathaway stock to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation -- then worth about $31 billion dollars. He said part of the reason was that "they have this identical goal that every human life is the equivalent of every other human life."

Amanpour asked Bill and Melinda Gates why they chose to focus their philanthropic efforts on health and education.

"We really started with the premise that all lives have equal value no matter where they live on the globe. So, that's Bangladesh, or that's Boston, or that's in Britain somewhere," Melinda Gates said.

"We looked around," Bill added, "and saw that the greatest miracle that had happened for everybody on Earth is that as health had improved, it not only saved lives, it reduced sickness, let kids be able to learn."

Melinda emphasized the importance of education, not just abroad, but also in the United States. "In the U.S. we feel the greatest inequity is education, that not every child in this country is getting a phenomenal education," she said. "And they ought to -- that's the civil rights issue in our country"

Page
  • 1
  • |
  • 2
Join the Discussion
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...
See It, Share It
PHOTO: Cornealious Anderson, who was convicted of armed robbery in 2000, is shown in this undated file photo.
Missouri Department of Corrections/AP Photo
Kate Middleton Rocks a Pattern Down Under
Brendon Thorne/Getty Images
Find out how to avoid hunger-induced crankiness.
Altrendo/Getty Images
PHOTO: Robin Williams starred in the 1993 comedy Mrs. Doubtfire. According to The Hollywood Reporter, a sequel to the movie is in the works.
20th Century-Fox/Getty Images