10A008 Billionaires' Dilemma by Jim Davies, 8/14/2010

Recently the news broke that some billionaires plan each to give away half of his fortune to charity. Why?

One reason may be just the very widespread and agreeable one that giving away money brings pleasure. Once one has bought all the toys one can think of buying, to donate money without strings and watch it bring pleasure or healing or other benefit to someone else brings a big boost to self-esteem. Wonderful!

Another is that even billionaires are mortal, and since it takes a while to amass a vast fortune most of them are not spring chickens and may be facing the fact that there is a death tax. The choice is therefore between letting go of some money here and now under one's own control, or of having it confiscated by government and frittered away on wars or other mayhem after all control is lost. The fact that one would not be around to regret the latter somehow fails to bring much comfort. So, which recipient is preferred: a set of selected charities, or Uncle Sam?

For all but the most dedicated Statist, that's a no-brainer - though I was astonished and appalled to hear on some NPR interview yesterday a man express the wish that more rich folk would "donate to government" some of their wealth; I was so upset, the car made a swerve on the highway. But for those billionaires who may be reading this and who can tell the difference between honesty and theft, I respectfully offer some suggestions as follows.

  1. Build a fund to help victims of government. Some are suffering now, and more will suffer temporarily when government collapses and leaves millions of its "welfare" recipients unsupported. I created such a shell as "SAVOG", here; it's empty, because I'm still seeking the necessary fortune, but that doesn't stop others contributing, or creating their own. One immediate need is to help victimless "criminals", recently released from government cages, get back on their feet.
  2. Invest in another business! That's not usually considered charity, but it's exactly what creates and distributes wealth! Sad to say, some rich folk have been themselves so mis-educated as not to understand that, even while doing it. Yet this is the essence of free capitalism, the engine of progress, the great reducer of poverty.
  3. Fund pure research and exploration. Most of the great discoveries made in the last 400 years, which led to our present high standard of living, were made by people using private funds to tease out the secrets of nature. Many more are waiting to be made, and that's the best way.
  4. Endow a private college or school, probably on-line, so that government-free education can spread faster. This can be done, like #2 above, as a for-profit business - but add plenty of full scholarships, so that even a low fee need not be a barrier. And make sure all the teachers know which way is up.

I could add, support us ZGBlog authors with dollars instead of cents; but then you might suspect me of improper motives... so I won't

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