FORTUNE Magazine: Warren Buffett gives away his fortune – Jun. 25, 2006: Well hats off to Warren Buffett who is using his considerable wealth to make a difference in the world. Today Buffett pledged to give away $37 billion of stock at today’s value to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. This is really great to see and is the proper role that true wealth ought to play in our society. This also, according to CNNMoney, may be the largest single philanthropic gift ever given.
And so Bill and Warren are great examples of how the wealthiest in our country ought to spend their wealth in the end. But where are the rest of the Forbes 500? Where are the rest of the world’s wealthiest on giving things away?
One way to ensure that more of this money be given away is to continue to increase the estate tax. The estate tax probably has the least detrimental impact above a certain level towards the overall welfare and benefit of our society.
Personally I believe that their ought to be a much greater incentive for wealthy Americans to give their money away. I think that the estate tax on estates over $50 million ought to be 100%. Why over $50 million? Because I believe that $25 million (what would be left assuming the first $50 million being at 50%) is more than enough money to leave your children and heirs to live out their life in relative comfort. And while they may not be able to own and fly the private jets that their parents did, they still would more than likely have as comfortable a life as possible. If they were wise stewards of the $25 million left they could also certainly increase these dollars during their life as well ensuring that their children and future generations were also well cared for.
The cost on our society for the wealthiest of the wealthy losing the ability to pass on more than $25 million or so peronally would not be that great. The benefit on the other hand would be enormous. And it would absolutely encourage others to follow in the footsteps of Gates and Buffett in using their vast wealth for the benefit of a much greater group of people on this earth.
Thank you Warren Buffett for this kind gift to the world today and for helping set an example of the right behavior for the billionaire.