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on the purchasing power equiv alent of less than one U.S. dollar per day . Most of the world’s poorest people
are undernourished, lack access to safe drinking water or ev en the most basic health serv ices and cannot
send their children to school. According to Unicef, more than 1 0 million children die ev ery y ear — about
w w w .ny times .c om/2006/12/17/magaz ine/17c har ity .t.html?_r =0&pagew anted=pr int 1/10 Sho1/l14a1Billionair e Giv e – and What Should You? - New Yor k Times
ud / 3 30,000 per day — from av oidable, pov erty - related causes.
Last June the inv estor Warren Buffett took a significant step toward reducing those deaths when he
pledged $31 billion to the Gates Foundation, and another $6 billion to other charitable foundations. Buffett’s
pledge, set alongside the nearly $30 billion giv en by Bill and Melinda Gates to their foundation, has made it
clear that the first decade of the 21 st century is a new “golden age of philanthropy .” On an inflationadjusted basis, Buffett has pledged to giv e more than double the lifetime total giv en away by two of the
philanthropic giants of the past, Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller, put together. Bill and Melinda
Gates’s gifts are not far behind.
Gates’s and Buffett’s donations will now be put to work primarily to reduce pov erty , disease and premature
death in the dev eloping world. According to the Global Forum for Health Research, less than 1 0 percent of
the world’s health research budget is spent on combating conditions that account for 90 percent of the
global burden of disease. I n the past, diseases that affect only the poor hav e been of no commercial interest
to pharmaceutical manufacturers, because the poor cannot afford to buy their products. T he Global Alliance
for Vaccines and I mmunization (GAVI ), heav ily supported by the Gates Foundation, seeks to change this by
guaranteeing to purchase millions of doses of v accines, when they are dev eloped, that can prev ent diseases
like malaria. GAVI has also assisted dev eloping countries to immunize more people with ex isting v accines:
99 million additional children hav e been reached to date. By doing this, GAVI claims to hav e already
av erted nearly 1 .7 million future deaths.
Philanthropy on this scale raises many ethical questions: Why are the people who are giv ing doing so? Does
it do any good? Should we praise them for giv ing so much or criticize them for not giv ing still more? I s it
troubling that such momentous decisions are made by a few ex tremely wealthy indiv iduals? And how do
our judgments about them reflect on our own way of liv ing?
Let’s start with the question of motiv es. T he rich must — or so some of us with less money like to assume —
suffer sleepless nights because of their ruthlessness in squeezing out competitors, firing workers, shutting
down plants or whatev er else they hav e to do to acquire their wealth. When wealthy people giv e away
money , we can alway s say that they are doing it to ease their consciences or generate fav orable publicity . I t
has been suggested — by , for ex ample, Dav id Kirkpatrick, a senior editor at Fortune...
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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