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Billionaires Who Have Taken the Giving Pledge

By JLP | September 14, 2010

Have you heard of The Giving Pledge? Bill Gates and Warren Buffett created the pledge in order to get wealthy individuals and families to give away half of their estates. Below is a list of those who have taken the pledge so far. As you can see, these are some wealthy people.

I might have heard about this pledge earlier but didn’t pay attention to it until I saw Billionaires Who Haven’t Taken the Giving Pledge on MSN this morning. By making this list public, it does seem to put some pressure on those who are wealthy and have not yet made the pledge. As the above article mentions, all of those on the list who have not yet pledged have their own charities and do give back to society.

Paul G. Allen

Laura and John Arnold

Michael R. Bloomberg

Eli and Edythe Broad

Warren Buffett

Michele Chan and Patrick Soon-Shiong

Barry Diller and Diane von Furstenberg

Ann and John Doerr

Larry Ellison

Bill and Melinda Gates

Barron Hilton

Jon and Karen Huntsman

Joan and Irwin Jacobs

George B. Kaiser

Elaine and Ken Langone

Gerry and Marguerite Lenfest

Lorry I. Lokey

George Lucas

Alfred E. Mann

Bernie and Billi Marcus

Thomas S. Monaghan

Tashia and John Morgridge

Pierre and Pam Omidyar

Bernard and Barbro Osher

Ronald O. Perelman

Peter G. Peterson

T. Boone Pickens

Julian H. Robertson, Jr.

David Rockefeller

David M. Rubenstein

Herb and Marion Sandler

Vicki and Roger Sant

Walter Scott, Jr.

Jim and Marilyn Simons

Jeff Skoll

Tom Steyer and Kat Taylor

Jim and Virginia Stowers

Ted Turner

Sanford and Joan Weill

Shelby White

Topics: Giving | 17 Comments »


17 Responses to “Billionaires Who Have Taken the Giving Pledge”

  1. Nick Says:
    September 14th, 2010 at 9:31 am

    I love the giving pledge. I love it more because it’s low pressure and voluntary! So I’m not sure I’m big on MSN calling the others out (although I’m pretty sure there is no amout of “calling out” you can do to make me give away hundreds of millions (or billions) of dollars if I don’t want to.

    But one thing a lot of people say about the GP that I disagree with is something like “give me a billion and I’ll give you $900 million.” That’s not what happened here. These people made their billions. They worked around the clock. They took risks of time and money. They sacrificed. And now, after all of that hard work, they’re giving a lot of it away. That’s different than “give me a billion.” (I don’t know them all but I’m pretty confident at least most of them worked their butts off to get their billions.)

    Sorry for the rant, but thanks for the post. Good stuff.

  2. Spokane Al Says:
    September 14th, 2010 at 9:59 am

    I have a problem with this stuff, especially the calling of those who don’t fall in line with the others who have signed on to give.

    There was a recent, very interesting WSJ article which talked about the effectiveness of many of the charities and so forth that have been set up. The finding was that in many cases, these people did much more good for others by running an efficient, effective corporation.

    And like the authors of the article I have a problem with the concept of “giving back to society” which assumes, by their success, that they have taken something.

    Gates and others have created tremendous wealth for hundreds if not thousands, and jobs for tens of thousands of others. They have improved life, through their successful visions and by carrying out those visions via their corporations. This has resulted in personal wealth and also a unmeasurable gain for society.

    I fail to see the taking from society that many use as justification for demanding that these people sign the pledge.

  3. JLP Says:
    September 14th, 2010 at 10:06 am

    Spot on, Al! I agree. Peter Schiff put it brilliantly in his book, How an Economy Grows and Why It Crashes:

    “…the fact that there are degrees of wealth has always struck some as being inherently unfair. Central in this unease is the belief that the rich become that way because they take wealth from others, thereby creating the poor. In modern economics, some have labeled this idea “the labor theory of value,” which states that profit is created by paying workers less than they are worth. In this view, entrepreneurs, like Able or giant corporations for that matter, can get rich only if they succeed in making others poor.

    “This idea has everything to do with moral posturing, and nothing to do with reality. The reason that the rich get that way (at least initially) is that they offer something of value to others.”

  4. BG Says:
    September 14th, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    “Some German billionaires have shunned the Giving Pledge, seeing it as too ostentatious, a status symbol for the self-aggrandizing superrich.

    One of them, shipping tycoon Peter Kramer, believes it would better if billionaires kept their money and let governments collect their share of tax receipts. Kramer believes governments would use the money more effectively by putting it directly to work in local communities.

    Kramer also frets that some wealthy individuals will use the Giving Pledge as a way to avoid taxes or to contribute to self-interested campaigns or hobbies in the guise of humanitarian aid.”

    When someone in the group, speaks out against the group, that’s when you should listen.

    Props to those who have already signed the pledge!

  5. Jack Says:
    September 14th, 2010 at 4:30 pm

    While they are alive, I think it is better for the ultra-rich to keep their money. They all got rich by creating jobs. That is far more valuable than anything charities could do with it. The ultra-rich got there by giving a man $50,000 and getting finding a way for him to create $60,000 worth of goods and services. Can any charity do that?

    The thing is, it is the rare heir that can continue that success.

  6. BG Says:
    September 14th, 2010 at 5:26 pm

    #5 Jack) I think small-business employ far far more people in the US than these guys, especially after accounting for the relative wealth that they control. Not to knock the people on the list for their generous giving, but take for example T. Boone Pickens — how many people do you think he employs?

    About 20 employees at BP Capital. My neighbor has a lawn-service business and has 10 employees…

  7. Jack Says:
    September 14th, 2010 at 6:43 pm

    Really, BG? Name one small businessman who employs more people than one of these billionaires.

    T. Boone Pickens founded Mesa Petroleum, which, as most companies do, started as a small business. So, while in toto small businesses may employ more people, the successful ones (such as Pickens) create more and more and more jobs, until they are no longer small businesses.

    (He has also founded Mesa Water, and is the largest shareholder of Clean Energy.)

  8. Stacey Says:
    September 14th, 2010 at 10:49 pm

    I’ve yet to see an efficient government spending plan, but then again, I’m living in agony in IL, where all political things are screwed up. Thus, perhaps it’s better that they earmarked funds for their charity (plus it gets some money out of their estates, so kudos to them…)

  9. Jack Says:
    September 14th, 2010 at 10:53 pm

    Stacey, I’ve often asked liberals whether they donate to charities. Most of them do, though not as much as conservatives do. Then I point out to them that it is hypocritical of them to do so, rather than giving that money to the government that they claim works better. It is doubly hypocritical when they deduct those contributions from their taxable income.

  10. Steve Braun Says:
    September 14th, 2010 at 11:07 pm

    I am hoping, praying and pleading, that Baron Hilton gives it ALL away so that we can be spared from the spectacle of Paris Hilton in the news for decades to come.

  11. Stacey Says:
    September 15th, 2010 at 8:24 am

    Then what will she do for money? :)

  12. Jack Says:
    September 15th, 2010 at 11:32 am

    She’ll go from living off he dad to living off Uncle Sam.

  13. Jack Says:
    September 15th, 2010 at 11:33 am

    Oops — HER dad.

  14. BG Says:
    September 15th, 2010 at 11:56 am

    According to their latest filings, “Clean Energy” has 229 employees. Since Pickens is the largest shareholder, then we can say that he employees those people directly. Add that to the 20 from “BP Capital”, and he is up to 249.

    If you can dig up some more employees from other companies that he controls (by being the #1 shareholder) then let me know the numbers.

    But I am not knocking Pickens in the least: his charitable giving is employing lots of people, in the charities directly, and also researchers that his grants are funding.

    I agree with the intent and design of “The Giving Pledge” — when I posted what that German billionaire said, I said it is something that should be listened to (not necessarily agreed with) since it is the only counter argument against the pledge.

    And no, I don’t think government is more efficient than focused charity organizations, or private businesses for that matter.

    Government should fill the gap left by private business (who deem it unprofitable), and the gap left by charities (who don’t have a billionaire thinking it a worthwhile cause). When either a private business or a charity steps up, then government should get out of the way.

    Take for example Bill Gates: donating untold numbers of computers to schools & libraries. Do you think local government got in his way and said “you can’t do that, that is our job” — heck no!

  15. JLP Says:
    September 15th, 2010 at 12:01 pm

    I thought Paris was a boy…lol.

  16. Jack Says:
    September 15th, 2010 at 2:07 pm

    That’s Perez, and the jury is still out on that one.

  17. Jack Says:
    September 15th, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    “Government should fill the gap left by private business (who deem it unprofitable), and the gap left by charities….”

    What gap is that, and why should the government fill it? Is not our government made up of our representatives? Does the government not spend OUR money? If we, collectively, do not deem a social cause worthy of our money, what right do our elected officials have to take it from us for that cause? If our judgment cannot be trusted to donate to the worthy causes, then how can it be trusted to elect those officials in the first place?

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