how warren buffett-like of him
whatever one thinks of capitalism and the accumulation of great fortunes, it is impressive to see how billionaires such as george soros and bill gates develop thoughtful plans to get rid of their vast personal holdings.
today i heard that warren buffett is giving away about 37 billion dollars to the bill and melinda gates foundation. this does not appear to be some old rich dude writing a check for a small percentage of his assets. this appears to be the oracle of omaha dropping the bulk of his vast and bulky set of holdings on bill gates.
giving away the money is one thing, but giving away the money to another wealthy person's foundation is a very buffett-like move. most fatcats prefer to erect large buildings and institutions in their own names, grab the tax breaks and pats-on-the-back, and leave great piles of money for their heirs. but mr. buffett is a boring old midwestern value investor, who famously stayed in his cheap li'l house in omaha as his wealth skyrocketed. he's shockingly devoid of the sort of ego that trips many of us up. after studying the gates' foundation closely, he likely decided he couldn't improve on the model and believed they'd do the right thing with his money.
i can't speak for his motivations or the purity of mr. buffett's soul, but this is exactly the sort of move that made berkshire hathaway such a spectacular success. when the world went tech and called him a dinosaur, buffett held stuff like dairy queen, fruit of the loom, and coca-cola. over the life of the fund, which is about my age now, he's delivered his investors a compound annual return of over 20 percent. that's about 20 percent better than the typical loudmouth investment guru has delivered over the period.
mr. buffett has long spoken against inherited fortunes. he's been quoted as saying one should give one's kids "enough money to do anything, but not enough to do nothing." his rare ability to accumulate money and transcend ego will likely help the gates foundation make tangible progress in their international public health and education initiatives.