Warren Buffett and Bill Gates are spearheading a campaign to shame other billionaires into giving at least half their money to “charity.”
This is a sickening, misguided campaign on several levels.
First, it gives aid and comfort to the rapacious redistributionists.
I don’t care whether Gates and Buffett feel like they are expiating some kind of guilt or paying off some kind of debt they owe, it will be perceived that way.
Everyone who resents success, who rationalizes feeling entitled to take what others have earned, is a little more emboldened by this announcement.
If you earn an honest living, and you are kind of privately resentful about how you are taxed and screwed with all the time to benefit lazy people who chronically behave in ways that you disrespect, and you’re trying hard not to feel contempt for them…
If you haven’t read Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, I can’t think of a better day to go pick up a copy. One of Rand’s central insights was that self-hating capitalists are a much bigger problem than self-aggrandizing socialists when it comes to destroying a society. To put it in Oprah terms, Buffett and Gates are co-dependent enablers.
Today’s act of abasement doesn’t erase all the good that Gates and Buffett have done. But it sure does sully it. I mean, they sure have sullied it.
Keeping on in Oprah terms, I’ve done some pretty co-dependent stuff myself. And so have you. It’s a long hard lesson to learn that sometimes–USUALLY–helping hurts, especially when you are trying to help those who are the most ostentatiously and aggressively helpless. It takes huge wisdom, in any long term relationship, to relate without an expectation of reciprocity, without doing huge harm to the person who isn’t expected to give back. Take a look at the parent/child relationship, a perfectly appropriate example of a non-reciprocal relationship. How often does even that end up as a tangled neurotic mess?
In light of the above, I feel about Gates and Buffett right now like we all feel when a co-dependent friend does something particularly stupid, self-effacing and exploited. Part of me feels sympathy, part of me wants to sit them down and give them a good talking to (like that will do any good), part of me wants to bitch-slap them and yell, How can you be so smart and still be so stupid, part of me wants to take away their checkbook, and all of me wants to beat the crap out of their brat/spouse/culture who’s exploiting them.
Second, it pulls billions in capital away from productive enterprises.
Where do you think Bill Gates and Warren Buffett have their money right now? Under a mattress?
They have it invested in their businesses and in other businesses. If they want to turn it into charitable Cash for Cretins, they’re going to have to pull that money out of those businesses. I was going to go into how the mechanics of this will go. But then I deleted it because either you already know or you don’t care. Bottom line: no matter how carefully, deviously or gradually they do it, they will suck a certain amount of value and possibility out of productive enterprises to fund this stupidity. Yes, on paper Bill Gates and Warren Buffett own all their wealth. In actuality, that wealth is being USED every day by millions of other productive people who have agreed to give back a little to the billionaires who’ve funded them when they get rich too. By creating jobs and products that we love.
Either you get this stuff or you don’t, so I’m going to stop trying to explain it.
Third, why do we want these guys to have that much influence over the rest of us?
Let’s say I’m a billionaire. Or you are. What are your pet peeves and causes? Here are some of mine:
The United Way. What a crock that charity is. I think I’ll spend a few billion to compete with them and try to replace them.
The French. I’ll start a TV network with really good programming in English only and with English lessons, beam it into France, and have a countdown on the screen: 1000 days left to learn English before there are no more subtitles. The Frogs are a bunch of ridiculous bigots about their language and we should do something about it.
Smart school kids. If you’ve been bullied more than 3x in the last year and you have an IQ over 120, you can qualify for a scholarship to my MMA & AK-47’s summer camp. We’ll teach you to never use the AK-47 against anyone you’re tall enough to kick in the throat and you should always try to take your principal to the mat before shooting him through his office window. Fake clitoridectomy kits. I’ll just leave it at that.