Warren Buffett is my kind of billionaire. He first hit the philanthropy headlines in June 2006 when he announced that he was giving $31 billion to the Gates Foundation. In a world brimming with can-do entrepreneurs who tend to feel they will succeed at whatever they turn their hand to, this was an act of notable humility. ‘What can be more logical,’ he famously asked, ‘in whatever you want done, than finding someone better equipped than you are to do it? Who wouldn’t select Tiger Woods to take his place in a high-stakes golf game? That’s how I feel about this decision about my money.’
Not content with giving his philanthropic money to Bill and Melinda Gates to spend on his behalf, Warren Buffett feels that he and his fellow billionaires should pay more taxes. He favours a ‘very progressive’ tax system, reports the UK’s Guardian newspaper, commenting on an interview he did with the BBC. This view also seems to stem from a feeling of humility, and a recognition that luck has played its part in his own success. Rich people ‘may think they have done it all themselves but society has done an awful lot for them’, he said. ‘I was lucky at birth, I shouldn’t delude myself into thinking I am some superior individual because of that.’
Possession of wealth inevitably conveys power – something that is inherent in all funder-funded relationships, whether we like it or not. Warren Buffett’s attitude to his own vast fortune is a lesson to us all.
Guardian, 27 October 2009