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As greedy, short-sighted capitalists surround us daily, Warren Buffet provides a dose of humility and wisdom. Listen to him writing on his pledge to give away 99% of his wealth to charity:

“My wealth has come from a combination of living in America, some lucky genes, and compound interest. Both my children and I won what I call the ovarian lottery. (For starters, the odds against my 1930 birth taking place in the U.S. were at least 30 to 1. My being male and white also removed huge obstacles that a majority of Americans then faced.) My luck was accentuated by my living in a market system that sometimes produces distorted results, though overall it serves our country well. I’ve worked in an economy that rewards someone who saves the lives of others on a battlefield with a medal, rewards a great teacher with thank-you notes from parents, but rewards those who can detect the mispricing of securities with sums reaching into the billions. In short, fate’s distribution of long straws is wildly capricious. The reaction of my family and me to our extraordinary good fortune is not guilt, but rather gratitude. Were we to use more than 1% of my claim checks on ourselves, neither our happiness nor our well-being would be enhanced. In contrast, that remaining 99% can have a huge effect on the health and welfare of others. That reality sets an obvious course for me and my family: Keep all we can conceivably need and distribute the rest to society, for its needs. My pledge starts us down that course.”

The circumstances we are born into have something to do with luck? Capitalism works well overall but produces some widely distorted results? There is a point at which more wealth does nothing to enhance well-being and happiness? All obvious truths, but still truths worth making in times like these.

Read Buffett’s full comments here, and learn about his and Bill Gates campaign to encourage American billionaires to commit to giving at least 50% of their wealth away philanthropically.


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