Bill Gates and Warren Buffet recently teamed up to create something called the Giving Pledge. It challenges American billionaires to pledge half (or more) of their personal fortunes to private charities. If all American billionaires sign on, up to $600 billion could be distributed to deserving causes.
They have already signed on a handful of fellow billionaires to the cause. Each of them agrees to give 50% or more of their wealth, now or at their hour of their death, to any charitable organizations they deem worthy.
Everyone knows that Bill Gates is the biggest philanthropist ever. In marked contrast to his vengeful practices when he ran Microsoft, Bill is not a monster and truly wants to help people – even pledging his fortune in that effort. I applaud him.
He knows better than most that if you make a man a fire, he’ll be warm for one night but if you set a man on fire he’ll be warm for the rest of his life. When he created the foundation, he wanted to make sure the billions that flowed from it were spent meaningfully.
Thus, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has been carefully crafted to solve global problems within its reach. It begins by solving health problems (because people can’t make the world a better place of they’re dead), then goes on to support small entrepreneurship, education and agricultural advances.
On its face, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation looks like a worthy effort. But I think the new Giving Pledge is aimed incorrectly. I have a better idea.
Dear Bill and Warren;
Rather than ask your fellow billionaires to donate their fortunes to charity, why don’t you use this historic philanthropic gold mine to make a meaningful, permanent change? Let’s begin by accepting reality: $600 billion isn’t going to change the world. It can, however, change America – and that’s a good start.
This is how: ask your billion-dollar buddies to pledge their fortunes to a single endowment. Then challenge the United States government. Offer to use the entire balance of the endowment to offset the US national debt if – and only if - certain policies are enacted and maintained:
- Permanently reduce the DoD budget by at least 50%;
- Apply 25% of DoD savings to a true national health service;
- Use 25% or more of DoD savings to create incentives for renewable energy and energy independence;
- Use the $600B debt reduction pledge to encourage investment in internal infrastructure;
- Create a 50-year plan to end suburban sprawl and re-design the American landscape into something sustainable.
Once the Giving Pledge is on the table, it will be up to the president and Congress to act. If they do – hooray! We’ll pull ourselves back from the brink of military stupidity and start creating a brave new America. We’ll start working towards a better future – and with a huge mitigation of our national debt!
And if the president and Congress refuse the pledge money, they will be faced with an electorate so angry and so vengeful that our petty see-saw of Dem v GOP will seem like a bygone amusement. A new breed of body politic will emerge to fill the void and put the Giving Pledge money to work.
In sum, it just can’t lose.
So, whaddaya say, Bill? Instead of donating money, why don’t you leverage it? You did a helluva job with Microsoft using that game plan. Face it, Bill: it’s in your blood. Now rally your buddies, get the endowment rolling and start working DC.
We need ya, Bill. We really do.