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Warren Buffett Deserves a Noble Peace Prize

August 04, 2010 | About:

I remember the year that Warren Buffett announced that he was leaving the entirety of his fortune to charity. I remember thinking that his action made him a no brainer for at the very least Time's person of the year. Nope. Giving $50 billion or whatever it ends up being to the benefit of humanity didn't make the list.

Here are the last 4 Time Person of the Year Winners:

2007Vladimir Putin
2008Barack Obama
2009Ben Bernanke

As always, Buffett was wiser than we knew. It isn't just the cash that the world will benefit from. It is also the example that he set, and now the fact that he is actively pushing for other billionaires to do the same thing.

I read this morning the following from Dow Jones:

"Chairman Larry Ellison will join movie director George Lucas and 38 other billionaires who are following a call made in June by Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates to pledge the majority of their wealth to charity.The trio will announce that 40 of America's wealthiest individuals and families, from Microsoft Corp.(NASDAQ:MSFT) co-founder Paul G. Allen to hotel mogul Barron Hilton have signed on to the "Giving Pledge," an invitation Buffett and the Gates' extended in June for America's wealthiest families to publicly commit to giving away at least half of their wealth to charity within their lifetimes or after their deaths. The pledge stemmed from a series of dinners the two men held for the nation's billionaires over the past year to discuss the effects of the recession on philanthropy.

"Until now, I have done this giving quietly--because I have long believed that charitable giving is a personal and private matter," wrote Ellison in a public letter on the Giving Pledge's website.

"So why am I going public now? Warren Buffett personally asked me to write this letter because he said I would be 'setting an example' and 'influencing others' to give," Ellison wrote. "I hope he's right."

Other billionaires on the list, including New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens, had previously stated their plans to give away the majority of their wealth to charity but said calling attention to their plans will encourage others to follow suit. "

There are many people who have been more giving of their time, their lives and their efforts. But it is hard to imagine one person who is going to have more impact on society (for the positive) than Buffett as he pushes for hundreds of billions of dollars to be given to worthy causes instead of to the Paris Hiltons of the world.

Not that Warren needs any more recognition, but I hope he gets it for this simply because it might influence even more people to think the same way about giving back.

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Hschacht - 7 years ago    Report SPAM
Given how inefficiently most charities operate, one wonders if the billionaires aren't doing everyone a better service by keeping the money and spending it. But I guess it could be worse. Buffett could get his way, have the estate tax go up, and then give the money to the government! Compared to them, anyone allocates capital well.

Raj123456789 - 7 years ago    Report SPAM
Many charities may operate inefficiently. But so are the heirs of billionaires who squander the wealth of their families. Of course, it is their own assets they destroy. In the process, they may damage some communities but that is more collateral/indirect damage. Anyway, there is nothing wrong in encouraging people to give to charities. We can hope these capable billionaires who are donating their wealth are also capable of proper execution of their gift, just like they run their companies.
Amar0601 - 7 years ago    Report SPAM

I agree charities do not allocate capital very well, but I would reckon that it is probably a fault of how the charities are set up. And the people donating money are not the people running it.

On the contrary, an example of how charities can allocate capital very well is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and their alliance called GAVI (http://www.gavialliance.org) Very interesting setup that is managed very professionally and hands-on by the people who set it up and is making a major difference in the developing world. The real benefits of this would be visible 20 years from now, when all these kids from the developing world who get these vaccines, live healthier childhoods and then get an equal chance of doing well in life. This is as good an attempt as any to minimize the impact of Buffett's ovarian lottery in deciding the fate of young kids around the world.

Azizmia - 7 years ago    Report SPAM
I think Warren Buffet and Bill Gates should both get this year's Nobel Peace Prize. In my opinion, they are the two greatest souls in the world today and it would be noble for the Peace Prize committee to recognize them.

Greatness of the soul of a person today can be measured by only criteria: giving with love and affection without expecting anything in return. Giving money for the alleviation of poverty and suffering is perhaps the greatest gift any person can make. Both Warren Buffet and Bill Gates fulfill this criteria better than anyone else and the whole of humanity is richer today because of their actions.
Sivaram - 7 years ago    Report SPAM
If I remember correctly, the Time magazine award is given to the most influential person. I don't think Warren Buffett deserves to be on the short-list since he hasn't had much impact like the others you listed (in prior years.)

As someone suggested above, something like the Nobel peace prize is more fitting. But given how the Nobel committee has been giving out the prize to all sorts of dubious warmongers, including the latest one to Barack Obama, I doubt anyone serious about peace wants to be associated with that prize.
Batbeer2 premium member - 7 years ago
Thanks for an article worth reading.

Giving money for the alleviation of poverty and suffering is perhaps the greatest gift any person can make.

Buffett and Gates only give away money they will never need.

It is also the example that he set, and now the fact that he is actively pushing for other billionaires to do the same thing.

Good point.
Vuasu - 7 years ago    Report SPAM
There is some return in philanthropy...reputation/image...long after they are gone.

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