A few more billionaires join the Giving Pledge

A new crop of the super-rich have agreed to sign up with Bill Gates’ and Warren Buffett’s “Giving Pledge” — a project aimed at convincing the wealthy to promise to give at least half their accumulated wealth to charity now or when they pass on to the great gated community in the sky.

As many media noted, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is one of the new members of the Giving Pledge club.

“People wait until late in their career to give back. But why wait when there is so much to be done?,” said Zuckerberg in a prepared statement.

That makes either 56 or 57 generous billionaires (news accounts differ) who have made the pledge — out of about 400 billionaires in the U.S. and perhaps that many again worldwide.

I know this is supposed to be something to celebrate, but I wonder why so few of the super rich have stepped forward. As I’ve noted before on this blog, all the extremely wealthy are being asked to do here is make a non-binding promise to give away at least half their wealth … at some point.

Heck, even I could promise to do that. Doesn’t mean I would. I actually don’t have much.

I’m not sure what the risk is here for the super-rich. But apparently, it scares billionaires when other billionaires ask them to think about giving away their money — as Gates and Buffett discovered in China. Maybe it is commentary like this article in Slate awhile ago, saying the Giving Pledge is nothing more than a vague promise and the rich should either give now or commit to an enforceable, transparent and specific donation.

Or maybe it was what Democratic Socialist Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders said recently in a speech for Congress, denouncing the continuation of the so-called Bush tax breaks as symptomatic of a war being waged by “billionaires” against the rest of America. You don’t hear speeches like this too often on the Senate floor. This is more like the Give ‘Em Hell Pledge:



About Author

Tom Paulson

Tom Paulson is founder and lead journalist at Humanosphere. Prior to operating this online news site, he reported on science,  medicine, health policy, aid and development for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Contact him at tom[at]humanosphere.org or follow him on Twitter @tompaulson.

  • Hugh Mility

    Not all billionaires want to trumpet their good intentions. They do not, like Bill and Melinda, feel the need to shout their goodness out loud.