Thursday, August 5, 2010

Billionaires plan big giving spree

Posted By on Thu, Aug 5, 2010 at 12:40 PM

Well, not all of them ... but a lot of them plan to give away their fortunes. Which, really, is appropriate. Who do you think made them so rich? The little folks, like us — that's who. Now the uber-rich business men and women get buzzed by giving their money away. Good for them.

Only thing is, there are a few billionaires — Oprah, everyone's looking at you — who didn't sign up with the 40 billionaires who took their philanthropy project public yesterday. What does that mean? Who knows! Maybe they already have charitable plans for their cash reserves. (Oprah isn't known for being a Grinch, after all.) Maybe they dream of enriching some snotty teenager so we can watch them crash and burn on TMZ.com.

But, let's not focus on them. Let's focus on the more than three dozen rich folks who want to give away a combined $230 million.

The Daily Beast's Benjamin Sarlin explains ... here's a snip:

The origins of a pledge by Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, and 38 other billionaires to donate more than half their wealth to charity began last year in New York, at a clandestine meeting of the mega-rich.

The very existence of such an event, organized by Buffett, Gates, and David Rockefeller and featuring such names as Michael Bloomberg, Ted Turner, Oprah Winfrey, and George Soros, touched off a frenzy of speculation in the press when it was revealed almost two weeks after the fact by IrishCentral.com. Pete Peterson, who attended the meeting and has pledged his own fortune to raising awareness of America’s budget deficit, told The Daily Beast that it was there the group planted the seeds of Wednesday’s “Giving Pledge” announcement.

“I regard it as a repayment of a debt to the country that has been so generous to my family and me,” Carlyle Group founder David Rubenstein, who signed on to the pledge, said in a statement. “I hope that the attention the pledge receives will encourage all Americans—not just a select few—to consider increasing their own giving to worthy organizations and causes. If that occurs, the pledge will have really achieved its most important aim.”

Read the entire article here.

Oil baron John D. Rockefeller was a high school dropout and America's first billionaire. He was also quite charitable.

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