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Unformatted text preview: ld they giv e? Gates may hav e giv en away nearly $30 billion,
but that still leav es him sitting at the top of the Forbes list of the richest Americans, with $5 3 billion. His
66,000- square- foot high- tech lakeside estate near Seattle is reportedly worth more than $1 00 million.
Property tax es are about $1 million. Among his possessions is the Leicester Codex , the only handwritten
book by Leonardo da Vinci still in priv ate hands, for which he paid $30.8 million in 1 994. Has Bill Gates done
enough? More pointedly , y ou might ask: if he really believ es that all liv es hav e equal v alue, what is he doing
liv ing in such an ex pensiv e house and owning a Leonardo Codex ? Are there no more liv es that could be
sav ed by liv ing more modestly and adding the money thus sav ed to the amount he has already giv en?
Y et we should recognize that, if judged by the proportion of his wealth that he has giv en away , Gates
compares v ery well with most of the other people on the Forbes 400 list, including his former colleague and
Microsoft co- founder, Paul Allen. Allen, who left the company in 1 983, has giv en, ov er his lifetime, more
than $800 million to philanthropic causes. T hat is far more than nearly any of us will ev er be able to giv e.
But Forbes lists Allen as the fifth- richest American, with a net worth of $1 6 billion. He owns the Seattle
Seahawks, the Portland T railblazers, a 41 3- foot oceangoing y acht that carries two helicopters and a 60- foot
submarine. He has giv en only about 5 percent of his total wealth.
I s there a line of moral adequacy that falls between the 5 percent that Allen has giv en away and the roughly
35 percent that Gates has donated? Few people hav e set a personal ex ample that would allow them to tell
Gates that he has not giv en enough, but one who could is Zell Krav insky . A few y ears ago, when he was in
his mid- 40s, Krav insky gav e almost all of his $45 million real estate fortune to health- related charities,
retaining only his modest family home in Jenkintown, near Philadelphia, and enough to meet his family ’s
ordinary ex penses. After learning that thousands of people with failing kidney s die each y ear while waiting
for a transplant, he contacted a Philadelphia hospital and donated one of his kidney s to a complete stranger.
After reading about Krav insky in T he New Y orker, I inv ited him to speak to my classes at Princeton. He
comes across as anguished by the failure of others to see the simple logic that lies behind his altruism.
Krav insky has a mathematical mind — a talent that obv iously helped him in deciding what inv estments
would prov e profitable — and he say s that the chances of dy ing as a result of donating a kidney are about 1
in 4,000. For him this implies that to withhold a kidney from someone who would otherwise die means
v aluing one’s own life at 4,000 times that of a stranger, a ratio Krav insky considers “obscene.”
w w w .ny times .c om/2006/12/17/magaz ine/17c har ity .t.html?_r =0&pagew anted=pr int 6/10 Should a Billionair e Giv e –...
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This homework help was uploaded on 03/04/2014 for the course PPOL 4770 taught by Professor Martin during the Spring '11 term at UVA.
- Spring '11