They can’t take it with them

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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