The Giving Pledge, according to the statement on the site, “is a promise by the world’s wealthiest individuals and families to dedicate the majority of their wealth to charitable causes.” In 2010, Warren Buffett, Melinda Gates, and Bill Gates founded the Giving Pledge initiative after a series of conversations with philanthropists about how they could set a new standard of generosity among the ultra-rich. The Giving Pledge aims to address some of society’s most pressing problems. The 231 billionaires who have signed the pledge include names like David Rockefeller, Jeff and Marieke Rothschild, Richard Branson, Charles Bronfman, Elon Musk, MacKenzie Scott, Mark Zuckerberg, and of course the three initiators.
Many of these people have already donated billions of dollars, but the world continues to deteriorate. I am afraid that even if all the people on the list follow through on their promises, the world will not be one bit better than it is today. They will scatter their wealth across the globe, build a hospital wing here, a new school there, but people’s lives will not really improve.
It is true that in many places, the health and education systems need to be improved, but pouring money into sick systems will not cure them. If anything, it will only worsen the disease. As it stands, the world would be better off without those billions.
The dysfunctional welfare, healthcare, and education systems that we see all over the world are in this state not for lack of money, but for lack of good will. There is no desire to make them work well because people do not care for one another. When people want to exploit each other, they take pleasure in seeing others suffer and have no interest in improving anyone’s life.
When you pour that much money into a system that is so corrupt, there is not a shred of doubt that the funds will stay with those already at the top, and none of it will trickle down to those who need it.
Money can be put to good use if people want to put it to good use. To prevent billions, if not trillions of dollars from entrenching corruption even deeper and remaining in the hands of corrupt bureaucrats, all of society must go through a comprehensive educational process. When people learn to care for one another, they will naturally use whatever resources they have for everyone’s benefit. When this happens, we will find that we can have excellent health and great education for a fraction of the cost that people now consider necessary.
To achieve this, we need an educational process. Indeed, the only education that we need is to learn to care for one another. To achieve such a mindset, we must approach the issue from all angles. Science proves that only systems whose parts collaborate and maintain the overall health of all their elements survive and even thrive. History also proves that societies where solidarity and cohesion were strong thrived, and that they fell apart when internal divisions took over. We need to show in every way that we are only strong, healthy, and happy when we are united, when we care for one another.
In the coming years, hundreds of millions of people will remain jobless. The pandemic is accelerating this process and already, tens of millions are out of work either voluntarily or because their pre-pandemic jobs have disappeared. How are they to support themselves and their families if there is no mutual responsibility among us? How will they stay sane if they do not feel that society cares about them, and that they are obligated to society? They will become rogue individuals ready to explode and do harm at any moment.
However, if their minds are set on solidarity, if they understand and feel that we are all dependent on each other, and that society will care for them, they will find constructive ways to contribute, and society will benefit from them.
The longer the pandemic continues to wreak havoc in society, the more urgently we need to teach ourselves the rules of the new, emergent world and how to operate in it. Only when we understand how the rules of the game have changed, we will know what to do with the billions of dollars in donations. Then we will also realize that we do not need people to give their money to society, but to give it their hearts.
Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett (R) and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates react after participating in a newspaper throwing contest prior to the Berkshire annual meeting in Omaha, Nebraska May 2, 2015. REUTERS/Rick Wilking