They can’t take it with them

February 11th, 2014 at 7:19 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, were the most generous American philanthropists in 2013, with  a donation of 18 million shares of Facebook stock, valued at more  than $970 million (NZ$1.17 billion), to a Silicon Valley non-profit in December.

The Chronicle of Philanthropy reports that Zuckerberg’s donation was the largest charitable gift on the public record in 2013 and put the young couple at the top of the magazine’s annual list of 50 most generous Americans in 2013.

The top 50 contributors made donations last year totalling $7.7 billion, plus pledges of $2.9 billion. …

Ten of the 50 made the list because of bequests after their deaths, including the second biggest giver in 2013, George Mitchell, a Texan who made his fortune in energy and real estate.

At No 3 were Nike chairman Philip Knight and his wife Penelope, of Portland, Oregon, who made a $500 million challenge grant to Oregon Health & Science University Foundation for cancer research. 

The Knight pledge requires the university to match it within the next two years.

No 4 was philanthropist and former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, who made gifts totalling $452 million in 2013 to arts, education, environment, public health and other causes.

More than 120 of the world’s wealthiest individuals and families have pledged to give at least half their wealth to since the movement began. Although most people on the list were prominent wealthy people who have given generously in the past, Palmer said a few were surprises, including Jack MacDonald, a Seattle lawyer, who gave $139 million to three non-profits upon his death.

Some people get upset that we have millionaires and billionaires. They say it is terrible anyone has so much wealth. We even have some local communists academics who claim that it should be illegal for anyone to earn more than three times as much as anyone else.

But ultimately a lot of the wealth now ends up in the charitable sector when people die – or before. It is very different to 100 years ago when wealth was almost always inherited. And I think that (for example) the Gates Foundation does far more good with a billion dollars of expenditure than a government would do with it.

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30 Responses to “They can’t take it with them”

  1. CryHavoc (46 comments) says:

    Good on the Zuckerbergs, but hope that non-profit is selling or has sold their Facebook stock. Hard to see it being worth much in five/ten years’ time…

    On the other hand it would be nice to own FB stock if only to think I was profiting every time another ad for Candy Crush came up on my feed.

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  2. Mobile Michael (451 comments) says:

    Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Larry Ellison and co have grown wealthy by providing extremely useful technology to the rest of the world. They haven’t compelled anyone to use their products and have had to stay ahead of competition. When you read of the risks they took and hours they worked you see that they deserve the fruits of their labour.

    Anyone who begrudges them their wealth, or mocks their charity is only motivated by pure jealousy.

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  3. tas (625 comments) says:

    Amen. You’d be hard pressed to find anyone who donates to the government, despite leftist claims that it spends our tax dollars wisely on good causes.

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  4. Harriet (4,969 comments) says:

    “……And I think that (for example) the Gates Foundation does far more good with a billion dollars of expenditure than a government would do with it….”

    And also the Roman Catholic Church….Salvation Army…..Anglicans….Methodists…..Presbatarians…..

    The Catholics have over 300 hospitals in the US who deal mostly with those on lower incomes……..in Australia the Churches have 1000’s of aged care units…….alcoholic programmes…….charity shops…..cancer hospices…..the list in Australia alone is endless…

    Government does waste an awful lot of money.

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  5. Tom Jackson (2,553 comments) says:

    Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Larry Ellison and co have grown wealthy by providing extremely useful technology to the rest of the world. They haven’t compelled anyone to use their products and have had to stay ahead of competition

    Yeah right…

    Gates’ fortune was largely compiled from anti-competitive monopolistic practices (and outright theft of intellectual property). It’s partly due to him that most users have spent the last 30 years using substandard software. He probably set back computing a decade. One of the reasons mobile development and Web 2.0 have progressed so rapidly is that Microsoft has no real presence there. Even the Xbox, one Microsoft product that was of reasonable quality, has now been gimped to serve Microsoft’s corporate aspirations at the expense of gamers (that’s why you can’t find any PS4’s in store next to the pile of Xbox Ones).

    In any case, philanthropy is no substitute for the welfare state. To be honest, nobody really cares that much if rich people exist. What’s problematic is when the rules are skewed in their favour due to the effect of money on politics. This doesn’t happen so much in NZ, but the US system is more or less corrupt.

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  6. smttc (752 comments) says:

    Tom, the sad, envious little leftie.

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  7. Harriet (4,969 comments) says:

    Tom is another who follows the idealogy that envy is social justice.

    idiot. :cool:

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  8. Nigel Kearney (1,012 comments) says:

    There are genuine lefties who post here but ‘Tom Jackson’ is just a troll and will go away if people stop feeding his desire to provoke and be abused.

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  9. tas (625 comments) says:

    Tom: The 90s anti-trust case against Microsoft is laughable compared to what, say, Apple is doing today.

    I’m no Microsoft fanboy (linux/mac user), but they’re a company that has prospered on their merits. What Bill Gates did for PCs should be compared to what Android did for phones. i.e. he was the first to separate the OS from the hardware manufacturer. This made the hardware market more open and competitive. No one should begrudge him his wealth, which he has used to do extraordinary good.

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  10. Nigel Kearney (1,012 comments) says:

    This sort of philanthropy is nice for the vanity of the giver, but the net public benefit is less than investing in profit making activity. Those who are expert at providing valuable goods and services should focus on doing that. The people they are trying to help need jobs, or a better paying job than they currently have, so starting a new business is much more helpful than giving the money to medical researchers. Give away the money when you’re dead or past working age.

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  11. Cato (1,095 comments) says:

    Yeah, right. If you ask our academics. media men and clergy (yes, including the RC Bishops) then actually giving money to good causes isn’t true philanthropy. True charity consists of putting a tick next to the Labour box every three years so that legally mandated, forced and indiscriminate redistribution via several centralised bureaucracies. That’s what Michael Cullen called the ‘redemptive power of the state’

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  12. itstricky (1,830 comments) says:

    What a load of kak. There is no envy in Tom’s statements, those are quite valid critisisms of Gates’ business Just because it is big does not make it good. And he statement about the welfare state is correct andnenvy free as well.

    Do you people have no other response to him but to call him envious or a troll? I mean it was a set up, at the top of this post “and anyone who doesn’t congratulate them is envious”. Welcome to the world of intelligent adult debate.

    I think DPF wins “extrapolation of the year” with this one. A razzie for statisticians. Very wealthy Americans donate to charity therefore alll millionares worldwide are good and benelovent? I don’t quite think they were who the academics were talking about buddy.

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  13. Chris2 (766 comments) says:

    The best “donation” Facebook et al could make, would be to pay the right amount of company tax they owe now, instead of using that money as a philanthropic “donation”.

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  14. Cato (1,095 comments) says:

    Chris2 the ‘right’ amount of company tax is the amount it was legally required to pay. If it didn’t pay the right amount then the IRD can, and should, use its extensive powers of recovery.

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  15. itstricky (1,830 comments) says:

    Tas The antitrust case is but one example. MS were not the first to seperate OS from hardware however they did help spur on the affordable PC revolution which helped get a lot of home users to were they are today. I don’t see Tom’s comments as begrudging – people should understand who they idolise and why.

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  16. Harriet (4,969 comments) says:

    Nigel nailed it at 8:43

    Lawyers like labourers need all the work they can get………envious as Tom really…… :cool:

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  17. itstricky (1,830 comments) says:

    Cato – aha ye olde Moral versus Legal obligtion debate. And here we are talking about how wonderful, morally superior and generous Zuckerburg is…

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  18. gump (1,647 comments) says:

    At the risk of pointing out the obvious, one of the main reasons that high net-worth individuals give charitable donations in the USA is because the IRS grants generous tax credits for doing so.

    It amuses me that people think this was an act of pure philanthropy.

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  19. Allyson (47 comments) says:

    Look at the fine work of Bill and Melissa Gates’ charity. They are actually making a huge impact removing Aids from the African continent. Compare to the waste of money that is thrown at the United Nations Development programme. Two multo billion programmes. One is doing something we can all be proud of. The other. . . Well?

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  20. Allyson (47 comments) says:

    If you were to list the achievements of Helen Clarks UNDP, it would not trouble the maximum amount of characters you can use in a Kiwiblog comment

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  21. Tom Jackson (2,553 comments) says:

    Nothing wrong with Gates’ charity. He and his wife do good work.

    Doesn’t stop Microsoft from having set back computing or stealing other peoples work.

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  22. Tom Jackson (2,553 comments) says:

    Do you people have no other response to him but to call him envious or a troll?

    They can’t beat us dissenters in argument, so abuse suffices. :-)

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  23. infused (654 comments) says:

    Gates was on reddit today: http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/1xj56q/hello_reddit_im_bill_gates_cochair_of_the_bill/

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  24. Ed Snack (1,872 comments) says:

    As much as I am not a Microsoft supporter in general, to allege that their success was due to intellectual theft and anti-competitive behaviour is the perverse sort of success hatred one can only see from a leftist world-view.

    Certainly at some stages MS did engage in very sharp practices, for example in the fight for domination over the local network market (now 95-98% MS controlled) they quite deliberately crippled the ability of Novell to link Windows based PCs to Netware servers by using undocumented features put into Windows for that reason. And they were eventually prosecuted and fined, but long after the tactic had been completely successful. At the time Windows NT networking was rubbish compared to Novell’s offering, but at least it worked while users had no end of problems with the Netware clients for several years because of MS’s shenanigans.

    But that was a smallish part, most of MS’s success was built on providing Windows as THE PC operating system. As flawed as it was it was superior to any alternative available. OS2 had promise but failed to gain continuing support from IBM. Even more than Windows though was Office and most especially Excel. Quite simply, Excel was superior to any of the alternatives by such a margin that it became the de facto standard; and that drove the acceptance of MS into all organisations. Even today, make a financial system that just looks like Excel and the bean-counters will ignore all evidence of its failings to implement it as THEIR financial system because it looks just like what they are very familiar with (and I speak from bitter experience here).

    Another big success for MS is SQL Server and their development tools. SQL and SQL databases have been around for a long time, but before MS SQL one had the choice of capable but hideously (and I mean that) commercial databases like Oracle, DB2, Informix, etc, or poorly supported and often flawed “free” options that most notably came with very few development tools. MS SQL started out with many drawbacks, but it was cheap, capable enough for a start for many smaller tasks, and came with a serious development effort behind it. Now, apart from large scale sites using non-Windows OS’s and Linux loving specialists, MS SQL is THE database that (nearly) everything runs on.

    And the computing world is in many ways better for MS, as much (again) as I dislike the MS near monopoly, in practice it’s products are in certain areas the best solutions available. But what I would like to see is more competition, because competition drives innovation and delivers value to consumers. In the IT world this can be a two-edged sword as multiple solutions can (and does) lead to conflict over standards and integration, however this is (IMHO) worth it for the progress that competition delivers.

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  25. Elaycee (4,392 comments) says:

    A point clearly lost by the left, is that Zuckerberg et al have decided to give away their money.

    Compared to the left’s doctrine of creating generational welfare dependency funded by other people’s money.

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  26. emmess (1,428 comments) says:

    Pfft Tory Charity

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  27. Fentex (971 comments) says:

    That some people with large surpluses choose to do good with them is nice, but it’s no argument about what public policy should be.

    The two things, private gifting and public employment and taxation policies, are two unrelated items and pretending they are the same is an emotive effort to special plead a position.

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  28. Evadne (88 comments) says:

    Tom Jackson’s comment of 8:12 is the saddest thing I’ve read in a long while: “philanthropy is no substitute for the welfare state”.

    Have we really come to this? That anyone should think that statism should replace – and is better – than humanity?

    Philanthropy “the love of humanity” – which breeds all that is good in interpersonal relationships & strong communities:: compassion, charity (in it’s true meaning of “kindness and love for others”), interdependence, community spirit, goodness, beneficence, selflessness, doing things for others without thought of what you get in return, interest in others, benevolence, self-worth (in recipients as much as givers), communal responsibility and mutual interdependence……

    No ‘welfare sate’ however idealistic could come close to replacing the good of philanthropy. In reality, the welfare state has achieved almost the exact opposite of the above.

    Let me correct TJ’s comment. *** The welfare state can NEVER be a substitute for philanthropy. ***

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  29. Tom Jackson (2,553 comments) says:

    Tom Jackson’s comment of 8:12 is the saddest thing I’ve read in a long while: “philanthropy is no substitute for the welfare state”.

    Have we really come to this? That anyone should think that statism should replace – and is better – than humanity?

    Yes. It’s called the primary economic lesson of the 20th century. Private charity generates too many market failures, so the state steps in to more efficiently address the problem (the same goes with the health system, etc.). This didn’t come about through communism, but through the state gradually taking over the functions of co-operative insurance schemes (friendly societies, etc.).

    The fact that nobody on this blog understands this – the fundamental economic underpinning of the modern order – is a terrible indictment on our education system.

    Have you ever wondered why countries such as Canada, New Zealand and Sweden routinely beat out the United States when it comes to the general standard of living? I mean, that is a quite staggering fact, as none of these countries are as wealthy or powerful as the United States. Visit these places and you will just not see the kind of outright squalor present in many US states.

    The answer is quite obvious: these countries are much more efficient at turning what wealth they have into increasing the welfare of their citizens, and the reason they are more efficient is that they don’t have an automatic aversion to state intervention and will happily allow it if the result is more efficient.

    Consider health care. Canada spends much less as a percentage of GDP per capita than the US does on health care, yet Canada provides world class health care to every single Canadian and Canadians are on average healthier than Americans. It would be funny if it wasn’t so sad. Obamacare is just going to make it worse: public healthcare is just cheaper and more efficient than private insurance.

    Such facts sail over the self righteous heads of commenters on this blog.

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  30. itstricky (1,830 comments) says:

    to allege that their success was due to intellectual theft and anti-competitive behaviour is the perverse sort of success hatred one can only see from a leftist world-view

    Was Steve Jobs a ‘leftist’? Certainly he may have been a hippy. But is was he who said something like ‘Gates is bereft of techology ideas that’s why philanpthropy is a better fit for him’. Grain of salt as they were competitors I suppose but not a view confined to envious ‘leftist’s.

    Fact is they got behind, and that is why they resorted to ‘sharp’ tactics and the lawsuits started. And continued to do so. And now they’re a bit stuffed compared to yesteryear. So you can appreciate Steve’s remarks. And in fact Tom’s remarks too because if we were all reliant on MS solely we would be a long way behind where we are now

    As a good example you cite MSSQL. Not Microsoft’s product to start with. Obtained legally but not their product in the ‘good olde days’. Google Sybase. MS hands hardly touched it when you are fondly remembering it.

    In the same vein both DOS and Windows had large degrees of plagiarism or ‘creative license’ at least. (which is probably part of the reason Steve was p*d with him)

    Incidentally MSSQL may be number one in little olde NZ SMEs but Oracle probably still takes out International Enterprise top spot.

    But you’re right they did spur the PC revolution and that’s a good thing. But I hardly look up to Gates nor MS as some sort of demigods of techology visionary philthantropy.

    Anyway largely off topic.

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