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Facebook's Zuckerberg To Give Away Half His Cash 450

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the i'll-take-some dept.
Stoobalou writes "Facebook co-founders Mark Zuckerberg and Dustin Moskovitz are among the latest batch of 17 billionaires who have promised to give away at least half of their fortunes, after signing up to a philanthropic campaign led by Microsoft founder Bill Gates 3.0 and celebrity investor Warren Buffett. By signing up to The Giving Pledge, the mega-rich make a vague promise — sorry, 'moral commitment' — to give away more than half of their fortune at some point during their lifetime."
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Facebook's Zuckerberg To Give Away Half His Cash

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  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday December 09, 2010 @09:23AM (#34500140) Journal
    Call me old fashion but when you "give something away." You let it go. You don't set up a foundation and put the money in that foundation and then parcel out small percentages yearly as your foundation invests it back into businesses and countries that you have an interest in. I've bitched about this before [slashdot.org] (I'm aware that the couple hundred I've donated in my life does not measure up to tens of billions) but I think it should be clarified. A lot of these billionaires do not give the money away. They put the money into a foundation that then invests the large amounts of money into the American economy and sometimes businesses or areas of development that they hold an interest in. Once the return is netted at the end of the year, then this is what is "given away" in the strictest sense of the words. They treat researchers and poor starving nations like children. It has its benefits but I see it as largely detrimental. I understand that in doing this the foundation can continue to give indefinitely (until the American stock market dumps) but what I don't understand is that potential that the money has could be equally useful to the target medicines and poor that are supposed to be helped. If you don't think that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is American-centric and nationalistic in its investments, why don't you read his warning letter about China developing alternative energy [slashdot.org]. To quote Kenny Powers: "Sure, I've been called a xenophobe, but the truth is, I'm not. I honestly just feel that America is the best country and the other countries aren't as good. That used to be called patriotism."

    Here's my prediction for Zuck's money: He's going to pledge a trillion dollars it to something like stopping malaria in Africa. It's going to go into a foundation. The foundation will make money yearly by investing in indexes and mutual funds spread across American (not African) companies managed by some genius living comfortably far from any malaria parasite. At the end of each year, they're going to have ~5.5% to give away. They have American medical research companies apply for research grants. They arrange to have malaria medicine created and licensed from American companies shipped to Africa. They can't give that money to governments like the Democratic Republic of the Congo because government corruption will wick away much of that. And they might buy small arms and attack their neighbors with them. They get treated like children and they stay children. At the end of that year, America prevails economically with a sound infrastructure while the DRC remains malaria infested, corrupted and without any sort of infrastructure to provide clean potable water, sewage treatment or electricity to large areas of populace.

    So I have to kind of wonder if they're "giving money away" or if they're putting money into an engine that just persists existing problems while helping the American economy? Because people have been donating vast extensive sums of money to stop malaria historically and where are we at in that fight?

    Don't get me wrong, I'm happy that something is happening but I really question when I read "give away" in the news articles when a better term might be "endowed" or just call it what it often is, "an investment in America resulting in good will."
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Afforess (1310263)
      Because clearly, what's good for America must be truly terrible for the rest of the world... er, what?

      America creates the most billionaires in the world, and reaps the rewards (or doesn't, depending on your point of view...). Other countries only have themselves to blame if they feel left out.
    • A foundation allows him to know the donation is spent the way he intends it rather than how some other "charitable" organization deems fit.

      For example, I donate to places directly but would never donate to United Way or Red Cross because I have no control on how that money is spent.

      I don't donate enough to be worth setting up a foundation, but I can certainly understand how one might want to.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 09, 2010 @09:32AM (#34500260)

      No, you're full of bullshit. A one-time shot of a half-billion dollars will get pissed away in a year. Put that money in a foundation and consistently donate the interest, however, and you get a significant chunk of change going to the cause every year, forever.

      • No, you're full of bullshit. A one-time shot of a half-billion dollars will get pissed away in a year. Put that money in a foundation and consistently donate the interest, however, and you get a significant chunk of change going to the cause every year, forever.

        Forever? Just like the stock market is going to last forever? Just like the money the foundation lost from the BP oil spill [davemanuel.com]? They lowered their payout they had promised [gatesfoundation.org] following the American housing and financial crisis and I'm sure it's because they didn't get the money they thought was "already in the bag." Of course we can't get at any hard figures of how much they had pre-market crash and right after it but I'm going to go ahead and say you're full of bullshit in thinking that they are investing in

        • by ScentCone (795499) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @10:26AM (#34500964)
          Just like the stock market is going to last forever?

          It has so far. Those interested in long-term do-gooding in a particular niche think in longer terms. Changes in education, for example, are cultural issues. That takes generations, not one fiscal year, or the few years spanning some cyclical fluctuation in the value of equities. Over time, a halfway rationally managed pile of equities always has and always will grow in value. If all of the assets in a well balanced portfolio completely cease to exist, you can rest assured that there are far, far bigger problems than splitting hairs over whether it was smarter to buy a big pile of mosquito netting once, or setting up a foundation chartered to buy them regularly and forever.

          The stock market is a gamble. Any thoughts otherwise are true bullshit.

          Sure, if you only think in the very short term. And you think that, what ... handing all of your resources over, in one lump, as cash, to a particular charity for use right then and there ... that's not a gamble? We've seen many large funds get hoovered up by corrupt recipients over the years. Better for there to be oversight, guided by the principles of those that set up the foundations. And if they are students of a couple hundred years of history, they'll know that reasonably well balanced long-term investments grow, often very, very substantially. No multi-billion-dollar foundation is going to put all of its stock in a company in Venezuela that could at any moment by rendered worthless by Hugo Chavez in one of his weekly fits of nationalization, or tie up all of the funds in real-estate on one coast of one continent.
        • Especially if it is as you say, anywhere near 5-6% per year, it takes 16-20 years to meet the amount they could have originally donated!

          That's pretty much another generation...

        • by Gunnut1124 (961311) <rowdy.vinsonNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday December 09, 2010 @10:53AM (#34501380)
          Talk about looking a gift horse in the mouth.

          Your couple hundred dollars of investment can be handled the way you describe. To extend the period of time in which a large donation has effect, there has to be some sort of structure. If that's a lawyer handing out million dollar checks every year for a thousand years, then great. He can just sit on a big ole pile of cash in his storage room and hope there's never a fire...

          In reality though, the "gamble" you are griping about is the structure that ensures the longevity of the fund. The objective isn't to improve American as an economic power, though that may be a result, the objective is to provide solutions to the entire world. I'm certain we'd (Americans) love to buy Nike's from Congo rather than China. I'm pretty sure we like Nigerian oil. Africa has a lot to offer, but the process of setting up infrastructure in a place where basic health concerns are so great is not an easy one. Charities have been trying to solve that problem for decades now. The primary issue that most note? Not enough funding... Now Gates/Buffett have tried to make a near-inexhaustible source from which this funding can come. If you are having a hard time with the way they handle the money, make a billion dollars, contribute half, then tell them what you think. 'Til then, shut up with the pedantry and nitpicking.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by 91degrees (207121)
      Seems sensible to me. Helping the American economy is not a zero sum game is it? And a regular fairly predictable income is a lot more useful for a charity than a single lump sum. It allows them to plan ahead.
    • by recoiledsnake (879048) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @09:43AM (#34500430)

      They put the money into a foundation that then invests the large amounts of money into the American economy and sometimes businesses or areas of development that they hold an interest in. Once the return is netted at the end of the year, then this is what is "given away" in the strictest sense of the words

      The objective is to make money for the charity, so more money can be given out. It does not matter to the foundation if that's an American business or not, just that it has to be profitable. If African companies are not profitable then the foundation will simply squander the money away.

      If you don't think that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is American-centric and nationalistic in its investments, why don't you read his warning letter about China developing alternative energy [slashdot.org].

      What has that go to do with the foundation? It's not even mentioned there. Dare a person have different goals and objectives in his life? I think you're letting bias cloud your judgment. Just throwing the money at a problem does not solve it. Signing a check of a trillion dollars to the African government will just make the situation worse. A foundation is far better.

      How is what the foundation doing largely detrimental?

      • by jdgeorge (18767) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @10:05AM (#34500700)

        Agreed. This is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation approach [gatesfoundation.org] to philanthropy. If you have a complaint about it, explain how you disagree with this approach.

        Regarding nationalism, this explanation of their approach overtly expresses that one of their grant making priorities is "improving high school education in the United States." I cannot deny that this is America-centric, but I wholeheartedly support the idea that a wealthy person should contribute to the ongoing positive development of his own country.

    • by khallow (566160)

      They treat researchers and poor starving nations like children.

      It's a feature not a bug. How should you treat a country that has dozens of examples of how to elevate a country above crushing poverty, yet chooses not to follow those examples? And researchers could always get their funding from a source that respects them, say themselves, for example. Sure you're not going to fund a ten billion dollar collider on a associate professor's income, but a lot of those people are paid more than adequately for funding their own research.

    • by u38cg (607297)
      Not to be trite, but just giving away money doesn't really help. Trillions have been pumped into Africa as Western aid over the years, and there is diddly-squat to show for it. Using money intelligently is not a bad thing to do: a malaria cure is more use than a malaria net, even if everyone gets one.
      • by toQDuj (806112)

        I remember (but I cannot find) that a one-time lump sum handout to families in developing countries actually turned out to help quite well, as the family usually invested the money sensibly.

        As for the malaria, you can actually change the parasites' behaviour by installing malaria nets. The reason for that was explained in a ted talk: ill people, infected, will stay indoors and are no longer accessible to other mosquitoes, thereby preventing the spread of the parasite. It is therefore in the parasites' best

        • by TheLink (130905)

          It is therefore in the parasites' best interest not to render the patient bedridden, and changes in the parasites' characteristics can be seen within years.

          I think that'll work.

          Pity the bosses normally don't appreciate it if we stay at home for a week and not even bother to see the doctor (and thus risk spreading more germs) whenever we have a minor ailment. Oh well.

          Won't stop stuff like Hepatitis B/C and HIV though.

    • by Xacid (560407)

      Seriously?

      Operating in this manner is what makes the whole operation *sustainable*. And of course they're not investing the principle in Africa. Might as well give it to one of the million Nigerian Princes.

      And the Gates letter has NOTHING to do with stifling Chinese development. It has everything to do with asking the U.S. to step up its game in that field.

      Ever wonder why when you fly they say to put your oxygen mask on first? If you cripple yourself in the process you're useless to help.

    • That is the same reason why fair trade coffee bothers me. If it is not economically viable, why are they still producing it? Are there infrastructure issues that force them to produce coffee instead of food? Maybe those issues need to be addressed by people instead of just paying more for coffee. Fair trade is basically giving the coffee farms an allowance. They are better off day to day, but in the long run they are dependent on us and our demands. They should be supporting their own economy first so in th
    • May I recommend a book:

      The White Man's Burden: Why the West's Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good

    • He's going to pledge a trillion dollars it to something like stopping malaria in Africa. It's going to go into a foundation. The foundation will make money yearly by investing in indexes and mutual funds spread across American (not African) companies managed by some genius living comfortably far from any malaria parasite.

      I'm not sure that close proximity to wild malaria is anything that facilitates anti-malaria medicine. Seems to me it's not such a good idea to risk all of your researchers getting malaria. I know your situation is hypothetical, but hypothetically, i'd hope his foundation would dole out money to the organizations best suited to stopping malaria. Those companies might be Swedish, or Japanese, or American, or from some African nation. The thing is, i don't know how many African pharmaceutical or pesticide comp

    • Very rich people find away to donate money in a way that lets the money KEEP giving every year, and there not 'giving their money away'

      Theya re being SMART with the money they give away by goinging it to a 'engine' that allows the money to help over and over again. this is BETTER then just a one time use of the money.

      If you do give the charities, it would be smart of you to put money into a fund that supports what you want it to.

      To answer your question: They're making progress, but the biggest hold back are

    • They can't give that money to governments like the Democratic Republic of the Congo because government corruption will wick away much of that. And they might buy small arms and attack their neighbors with them. They get treated like children and they stay children.

      You kinda had me going along with you at the start of your rant. I thought you were going to go somewhere freakonomics-like on me and was ready for the ride. But your rant against putting money into an endowment [wikipedia.org] and the above quoted rant against p

    • Don't get me wrong, I'm happy that something is happening but I really question when I read "give away" in the news articles when a better term might be "endowed" or just call it what it often is, "an investment in America resulting in good will."

      Your problem appears to be with semantics. He and his peers (Gates, et al.) actually aren't "giving money away", as you seem to be saying they should be doing, where poor sods like you can (presumably) receive it and piss it away. He's giving it away to benefit a number of charities where it is presumed it will be managed to do the most good for everyone, not a few luck lottery winners. Your argument is specious and petty. These charities are like the world, theres good one's and there's bad ones. Here's a

  • Respect (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 09, 2010 @09:25AM (#34500160)

    I can certainly respect this. It's true altruism, quite unlike when government takes money by force and redistributes it. This is 100% voluntary, and therefore much more impressive and worthy of respect than any government program.

    • Re:Respect (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Bobakitoo (1814374) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @10:40AM (#34501140)
      Why you bring political bullshit in? Government don't take money by force, that money is due for all the services you get. Or did you mean like a commerce take your money by foce when you buy something? If you want to argue that you do not get your money's worth of public services, please do so in the appropriate thread/story. eg.: Not this one. Also, true altruism is anonymous donation or volunteering, not making yet a other Metoo foundation.
    • I love the "paytaxesinstead" tag -- because the government will be so much *more* efficient with large sums of money than a charitable organization could?
  • I hear the USA economy is in a poor way. Might be worth helping out now and investing in their local communities rather than waiting for 50 years...

    But fair play to Bill Gates for getting rich folk to sign over more wealth than a lot of folk have done in the past. Some of it's blood money /guilt money and there's a big philosophical debate about the balance of happiness at the end of them giving their money away vs what troubles they might have caused getting there in some cases. But fair play for giving it

  • Bill Gates 3.0 (Score:5, Informative)

    by ChinggisK (1133009) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @09:26AM (#34500184)
    For anyone else who was wondering about the "Bill Gates 3.0" part, the Bill we know and love/hate is William Henry Gates III. In case you were going to confuse him for the other Bill Gates'.
  • Half my fortune? Okay, just let me file this bankruptcy claim...

    • by Chrisq (894406)

      Half my fortune? Okay, just let me file this bankruptcy claim...

      I'm not quite that bad but if you define my fortune as

      assets - mortgage

      I would love someone to take half my fortune!

  • by dkleinsc (563838) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @09:28AM (#34500202) Homepage

    Like anything related to Microsoft, I guess you need to get to at least version 3 before you have something useful. *ducks*

  • I gave away half my net worth yesterday. I have now idea what the Salvation Army will do with the entire $20, but it sure felt good.

  • by rsilvergun (571051) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @09:29AM (#34500226)
    'cause conservatives like to laud this kind of thing as a sign that their take on capitalism works. But why should us lower classes have to go begging to some rich guy just to get what they need? Random generosity & hoping for the best isn't a good way to stabilize human society.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by khallow (566160)

      'cause conservatives like to laud this kind of thing as a sign that their take on capitalism works. But why should us lower classes have to go begging to some rich guy just to get what they need? Random generosity & hoping for the best isn't a good way to stabilize human society.

      The real question here. Why would we want to "stabilize" human society? I think the rate of human progress is in large part due to the inherent instability of human society.

      And you could always get a job or even better, start your own business. Then you could save your income rather than spend it frivolously. Then you too could be one of the rich people rather than one of the "beggars".

      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 09, 2010 @09:42AM (#34500398)

        And you could always get a job

        As if all poor people are poor because they don't have a job [wikipedia.org].

        • Remember these people the next time you swing by WalMart and see someone with a cart full of smokes, junk food, Pixar DVDs and a new BluRay player who is moaning about things getting so bad economically that they're being forced to make the choice between medication and food.

          Not to say that this is all of them, not by a long shot, but there are enough "working poor" who are poor because of their spending habbits and not because of their income. People who've gotten roped into 862 channels of garbage on the
          • by Halo1 (136547)

            The definition of "working poor" people is not defined based on how much money someone has, but on raw income relative to an absolute poverty level (USA and Canada), or on a relative poverty level (e.g. 60% of the median income for the EU). How much they buy at WalMart or even how many children they have (like someone else mentioned) is irrelevant.

      • by entotre (1929174) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @10:30AM (#34501006)

        I think the rate of human progress is in large part due to the inherent instability of human society.

        I assume you already live in Somalia and revel in all the progress there.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Millennium (2451)

      But why should us lower classes have to go begging to some rich guy just to get what they need?

      Because if you're not going to pull enough of your own weight to get what you need, then the other option is to live off of the goodwill of those who do. What entitles you to an illusion of a third option?

    • 'cause conservatives like to laud this kind of thing as a sign that their take on capitalism works. But why should us lower classes have to go begging to some rich guy just to get what they need? Random generosity & hoping for the best isn't a good way to stabilize human society.

      Yes, because in the Worker's Paradise, hard work is its own reward. Wait, didn't we try that one already?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ScentCone (795499)
      But why should us lower classes have to go begging to some rich guy just to get what they need?

      Right! Why beg a rich guy for it, or make it yourself, when you can wait for the rich guy to make it, and then just use some of his money to pay government agencies to take more of it from him, and give you a tiny piece of it! Who cares if there are huge administrative costs, as long as we take it from him, that's what matters.

      Of course the problem with that is that once you've got your piece of the rich gu
    • by Chemisor (97276)

      > Random generosity & hoping for the best isn't a good way to stabilize human society.

      And forced redistribution of wealth is?

      > But why should us lower classes have to go begging to some rich guy just to get what they need?

      Yeah! Let's get some guns, kill all the rich guys, and take their stuff! As a russian, I can tell you exactly how well that's going to work out.

    • by D Ninja (825055)

      'cause conservatives like to laud this kind of thing as a sign that their take on capitalism works. But why should us lower classes have to go begging to some rich guy just to get what they need? Random generosity & hoping for the best isn't a good way to stabilize human society.

      Yeah...because lower classes NEVER go begging to...oh...say...some big entity like the government for a handout. No. Never.

  • Jobs, not Cash (Score:2, Insightful)

    by digitaldc (879047) *
    I am not for certain, but I am willing to bet that this 'cash' will be spent on things that will not immediately benefit poor people and the working class.
    People need jobs, not cash. No amount of cash donated to a is going to help in the short-term pull us out of the financial crisis we are in right NOW.
    If facebook, Microsoft or others were to provide more stable, good-paying jobs to people, that would be more beneficial in the short-term and the long run for our country.
    Although I commend the philan
    • by digitaldc (879047) *
      donated to any foundation I meant to say
    • by geekoid (135745)

      well, that was nearly a nice attempt to push a political flamebait.

      The money is used in a way that does create jobs. TMYK
      Also, BG money goes SPECIFICALLY to helping the poor.

  • Unbeknown to the plebeian masses, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet have been secretly funding research to extend human life. Since the materials and techniques are too expensive to replicate to anything but a select group of individuals, Gates and Buffet have invited only the most elite in to the know under the condition that they give up lots of money. Unfortunately for them, this is only the icing of achievements for Gates and Buffet in the one game they love more than anything else, knowing how to hoodwink

    • by geekoid (135745)

      I wish you were correct, Because eventually it would be cheap enough for everyone.

  • If this douche decides not to, who's there to enforce this pledge? "I was under the influence of several different controlled subs... medications when I signed the papers. I have no idea what I signed. I have changed my mind since, and if you have a problem with that, talk to my lawyers."

    • by geekoid (135745)

      Stop being an ass. You could have spent that time being positive and shot him an email.
      IN my experience, praising people for good moves make it more likely they will follow through.

  • They now stand outside of his door with their hands out waiting expectantly.
  • If there is one thing I have learned it's this, never trust "future me". Doesn't matter whether it's billionaires, congress or myself.
  • Gates and Buffett, like so many of the Industrialists before them, appear to subscribe to the Gospel of Wealth...

    what seems to be forgotten in the ensuing adulation is how these folks acquired their wealth... we know about Gates,
    but Buffett is no kindly grandfather type... the Berkshire Hathaway Reinsurance Group has reaped BILLIONS in just
    the last several years via policies that ensured insane increases in homeowner insurance policy...

    • Re:in reality... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Chapter80 (926879) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @10:14AM (#34500820)

      Buffett is no kindly grandfather type... the Berkshire Hathaway Reinsurance Group has reaped BILLIONS in just
      the last several years via policies that ensured insane increases in homeowner insurance policy...

      Huh?

      There is no customer of Berkshire Hathaway that is forced to purchase a policy from them. If you are unhappy that they raised your rates, go buy a policy elsewhere!

      You capitalize BILLIONS as if this is an issue because it's a big number. Berkshire Hathaway is a huge organization, with annual revenues of roughly $112 Billion, from willing customers who choose to buy from this company. As a shareholder, I would be disappointed if they didn't reap BILLIONS.

  • by Gothmolly (148874) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @10:09AM (#34500756)

    Funny how most of these rich, aging guys suddenly want to buy their way into Heaven.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      Funny how when someone does something good with their money, spiteful religious types creep out of the darkness to deride their decisions. Unless of course the money is going to them, then it's the best thing ever.

  • by Anonymous Freak (16973) <prius...driver@@@mac...com> on Thursday December 09, 2010 @10:19AM (#34500890) Journal

    Facebook hasn't gone public. Facebook hasn't been sold.

    Facebook could collapse tomorrow, and he wouldn't have more than whatever he has saved of his yearly salary recently...

    I'd love to know how Zuckerberg thinks he's rich right now.

    • I agree. When facebook goes the way of friendster, AOL, Yahoo, Netscape, etc he is probably going to be wealthy, but not a billionaire.
  • If they do it right, they may never pay a dollar of income tax for the rest of their lives.
  • by Digital Vomit (891734) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @11:29AM (#34501988) Homepage Journal
    I don't mean to belittle Zuckerberg's donation, but it really bugs me when the media goes crazy about how "generous" the ultra-wealthy are when then give away a portion of their excess...

    Jesus sat down near the collection box in the Temple and watched as the crowds dropped in their money. Many rich people put in large amounts. Then a poor widow came and dropped in two small coins.

    Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has given more than all the others who are making contributions. For they gave a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she had to live on.” - Mark 12:41-44

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