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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:Huh... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Third Position (1725934) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @09:24AM (#34500148)

    Believe it when you see it.

  • 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.

  • 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.
  • I'll sign up... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by mswhippingboy (754599) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @09:30AM (#34500238)
    Let's see...

    I promise when and if I ever obtain wealth in the 20-30 billion dollar range, I'll give away half my fortune at some point during my lifetime (preferable just moments before I bite the big one).

    Wow... I feel like Mother Theresa now, and I didn't even have to deal with a bunch of lepers!
  • Jobs, not Cash (Score:2, Insightful)

    by digitaldc (879047) * on Thursday December 09, 2010 @09:32AM (#34500250)
    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 philanthropy, the reality is that people who are unemployed and underemployed couldn't care less about Mark Zuckerberg's philanthropic billions and the billions he has left over to live his extravagant lifestyle.
  • 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.

  • Re:I'll sign up... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Poorcku (831174) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @09:35AM (#34500310) Homepage
    Let me ask if you have donated like 5$ this year, Mother Theresa. My feeling is that you haven't, just like the majority of critics here...
  • Re:Huh... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by larry bagina (561269) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @09:37AM (#34500346) Journal
    if you think he's a douche because he has more money than you, then he's only half a douche (and you're class warfare crybaby)
    If you think he's a douche for other reasons, he's still a douche.
  • by 91degrees (207121) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @09:39AM (#34500368) Journal
    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 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].

  • Re:Huh... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TapeCutter (624760) * on Thursday December 09, 2010 @09:42AM (#34500402) Journal
    Bill always claimed he was going to give away most of his fortune at age 55, I didn't believe it until I saw him do it. Kudo's to him for his generosity, for keeping his word, and for showing others that mega-philanthropy brings it's own rewards.
  • Re:Huh... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by HungryHobo (1314109) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @09:56AM (#34500588)

    An old man walked up a shore littered with thousands of starfish, beached and dying after a storm.

    A boy was picking them up and flinging them back into the ocean. "Why do you bother?" the old man scoffed. "You can't save them all. You're not even saving enough to make a difference."

    The boy stoped thinking about what he had said.
    The boy went off to college, learned about buisness and learned how to make useful things.
    The boy went off and founded his own company with some of his friends and made and incredible amount of money because the boy was very bright and had a tallent for buisness.

    Years later as the old man, now positively ancient, walked along the beach spending his days discouraging children from helping starfish the boy, now a man roared past him in a giant automatic beach combing and starfish catapulting machine which he had designed and built with his massive fortune as part of a fleet of vehicles to comb the worlds seashores spewing starfish back into the ocean.

    As he passed the young man gave the decrepit old sod the finger and screamed
    "Can't save them all can I?"

  • by Millennium (2451) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @10:17AM (#34500860) Homepage

    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?

  • 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:Huh... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Thursday December 09, 2010 @10:35AM (#34501062) Homepage Journal

    Bill always claimed he was going to give away most of his fortune at age 55, I didn't believe it until I saw him do it.

    You still haven't seen him do it. The Gates Foundation makes for-profit investments in evil, and in order to get immunizations you have to provide strong IP protection to big pharma. If you think Bill Gates is a good guy, you have been fooled. Enjoy your Kool-Aid!

  • 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.
  • by ScentCone (795499) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @10:41AM (#34501166)
    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 guy's stuff, somebody else will be looking at you as being richer than he is, and you're next on the list.

    Conservatives applaud the sort of thing being discussed because it's done by choice, rather than by force. Liberals hate this sort of thing because it means that some poor guy is getting mosquito netting or an education without a bureaucratic layer of unfireable, unionized government employees making a living off of deciding how the rich guy should be generous, in what amount, when, and to whom, under penalty of imprisonment if he doesn't do it right. Taxing the rich guy and doling out money doesn't create anything. Investing the rich guy's money in a foundation that is chartered specifically to grow and use proceeds to benefit the foundation's targeted recipients does create things. That's the difference between the two approaches, and the ability to grasp that is the difference between conservatives and liberals on a lot of these topics. Forcibly redistributing the fruits of someone else's work doesn't create a thing except a culture of dependence and resentment.
  • 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:Huh... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by corbettw (214229) <corbettw@[ ]oo.com ['yah' in gap]> on Thursday December 09, 2010 @11:00AM (#34501502) Journal

    I think the point was that being a negative person who only pokes holes in what others are trying to accomplish serves no purpose, while being optimistic means that, even if you can't achieve what you want right now, you can still work hard and do so later.

  • Re:Huh... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheRaven64 (641858) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @11:01AM (#34501518) Journal

    It's a really neat idea. 'We're philanthropists,' says the foundation's representative, 'we'd like to give you drugs - entirely free - that will save tens of thousands of lives in your country.' Pretty much the offer you can't refuse, for any politician - no one wants to be the one that turned down an offer to save that many lives. 'There's just one small thing you have to do for us,' says the foundation. 'Well, not really for us - we'd love to avoid this - but unfortunately the drug companies won't let us have the drugs unless you sign this IP treaty with the USA. It's to protect their investment, you understand.'

    Well, that's fine - just one treaty, and it can't be that bad. Until you realise that it means that you are now not allowed to produce cheap generic versions of the drugs locally (or import them) - after the donation runs out, you have to keep buying the US versions that are several times the price. So, after a few years, it's probably going to cost more lives than not taking the money originally, but that's okay, you're a politician, you're not going to be accountable.

    Oh, and as a bonus, it protects US IP-based companies (in which, coincidentally, the investors in the B&MGF have a lot of other investments) from foreign competition, by preventing another country from bootstrapping an industrial economy in the same way that the US, China, and so on, did.

    Still, it would be hard to be a philanthropist if you ran out of poor people - they're just making sure that they can keep helping people for the foreseeable future.

  • by scot4875 (542869) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @11:12AM (#34501710) Homepage

    Except that developing cures for diseases isn't like buying a jacket. It's not like there's some cure that they're "saving up for" $50 million at a time, bit by bit, rather than just buying it off the shelf for $5 billion.

    And even if they did give the billions of dollars directly to a charity, what would you expect the charity to do? Hire enough people to blow through it in a year? Spend it all on a huge facility with all the absolute best equipment, then run out of money to fund it in a couple of years? I suspect that they might, instead, just hire enough people to effectively work on the problem, in a reasonably sized facility, then save the rest to pay their expenses and salaries for the next X years. But if the rest is saved, what are you going to do? Just stick it in a bank account? No, with that kind of money, it would really make sense to invest it and hire some smart people to take care of it and hopefully earn more money for you.

    In the end, it ends up being the same thing. So really, what's your point? The way it works now, the research institutions don't have to also worry about being investment experts; they just get their money and do their thing. They foundation gets to do its thing and not have to worry about also running a research institution. Personally, I think that's a good solution and maybe helps to eliminate some conflicts of interest.

    --Jeremy

  • Re:Huh... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PhrstBrn (751463) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @11:28AM (#34501950)

    You make it sounds like if everybody invested money, everybody would be 10x richer? Where do you think all this extra money comes from, trees?

    Maybe the problem is "investing" really doesn't create as many jobs as you think it does, but instead moves money around between other "investors", and only a tiny tiny amount of that goes to VC loans and things which theoretically would create jobs.

    If you "invested" $1M in Exxon stock, how many jobs do you think you're creating? 1? 2? 100? 1000? Let me try another number, zero.

    I know of only one sure way to create more jobs. Hire more people. This investing crap is just moving the money around in a big circle jerk with the people at the top. You have to be naive if you believe any significant portion of that money invested "trickles down" to the working class.

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