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The Forum > Article Comments > The ‘business of beneficence’ > Comments

The ‘business of beneficence’ : Comments

By Gwynn Mac Carrick, published 29/8/2006

Warren Buffett has given huge impetus to what is being called 'venture philanthropy' or 'philanthro-capitalism'.

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Here is an alternative view on the benevolent philanthropy of Gates & Buffet. http://www.commondreams.org/views06/0823-26.htm
They can afford to be generous and still be the richest men in the world.
Posted by rossco, Tuesday, 29 August 2006 3:29:35 PM
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I have a great laugh over those who see conspiracies behind everything.

Now you can give away 10's of millions and STILL be seen as basically selfish by some oddballs. And usually tightarse oddballs at that!

Maybe they should take Osama's line and spend their millions on weapons while allowing poverty and disease to reign amongst his own people.

Go Buffet and Gates. No, wait. Maybe you should keep your money for yourself just like your critics do.
Posted by Atman, Tuesday, 29 August 2006 8:41:42 PM
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Gates and Buffet are both great men and deserve to be praised.

The much younger Google founders have started down the same path but in a different way. They are financing speculative polymer solar technology which promises to help solve the green house gas. While this could turn out to be a financial bonanza it is also an investment that an ethical investment fund could be proud. My guess is that the Google boys will put any profits back into equally worthwhile research.

There are some in Australia who are doing similar investments and it is a great trend.

How refreshing it is to read positive stories.
Posted by Fickle Pickle, Thursday, 31 August 2006 5:29:15 AM
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Philanthropy at anything like this scale has got to be a great thing. Let’s hope it catches on around the world.

But I can perceive problems;

One of the greatest paradoxes of humanity has been the development of medicines that have saved millions of lives, but have led to increased birthrates, greater population pressure and lower quality of life for millions. Arguably, the implementation of western medicine has led to much greater catastrophes resulting from natural disasters than would have been the case if populations had remained much smaller. To that extent, those natural disasters have only been partly natural.

I worry about funding improvements in health without addressing family planning or sustainability issues directly.

It is possible that huge philanthropic efforts can actually having a big downside, if only part of the problem is addressed. And let’s face it, matters pertaining to fertility and population growth are still highly unpalatable if not completely taboo to most people…. and yet they are a crucial part of protecting our global future, just as much as improving global health issues and standard of living are. In fact they are crucial to improving health and standard of living.

There is a strong tendency for philanthropy to be directed at the most obvious or emotive issues, which are often subissues of bigger problems.

The Australian Wildlife Conservancy is a philanthropic organisation with many large donors. It has bought up properties across the country for conservation purposes. It manages these in a parallel way to National Parks.

This is another great move forward which I hope takes off.

But again it is problematic, because it deals directly only with a handful of properties and only in a very indirect manner, by way of demonstrating good principles, with environmental issues across the continent that underlie the need to buy properties expressly for conservation and protect the rare species and ecosystem thereon.

It is the same story with philanthropy at any level – the really big and usually ugly issues just don’t get supported, while efforts go towards things that are really just symptoms of these issues.
Posted by Ludwig, Thursday, 31 August 2006 1:28:10 PM
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The trend continues to be to set up these foundations to avoid taxation while giving back to needy causes. It's not illegal - it's just smart. One organization that is providing tools to do the same thing that Gates and Buffet are doing is The American Foundation - www.americanfoundation.net
Posted by Bluepen, Friday, 1 September 2006 4:02:52 AM
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The trend continues to be to set up these foundations to avoid taxation while giving back to needy causes. It's not illegal - it's just smart. One organization that is providing tools to do the same thing that Gates and Buffet are doing is The American Foundation - www.americanfoundation.org
Posted by Bluepen, Friday, 1 September 2006 4:04:07 AM
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