World's Second Richest Man Gives It Away…to World's Richest Man

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Warren Buffett announces plans to hand over 83 percent of his $44 billion to Bill Gates' foundation. While the reasons are philanthopic, the dark comedy of it all when contemplating old sayings such as "the rich get richer" is too rich to not note.

Another thing not noted, by this Washington Post report on the Warren Buffett giveaway to his friend Bill Gates, is that one of the Gates Foundation's main concerns is what used to be called "population control"–a popular concern of the superrich, though that phrase is apparently considered just too, too crude nowadays. The billionaires are consciously following in the ideological footsteps of 1994's UN International Conference on Population and Development; back when that conference was fresh, I questioned the weird game played between the Vatican and UN population bureaucrats ("popucrats," a neologism I'm pretty happy never caught on) at that Cairo conference here:

The headlines on the conference played up the phony conflict over abortion and contraception. By calling the conflict phony, I don't mean to imply that the Vatican and the handful of other countries joining in its disapproval were insincere….

But their objections did play a useful role for their opponents, who had no intention of heeding them. Popucrats and the press were able to portray only superstitious reactionaries straight out of the Middle Ages as fighting the self-evidently humane and necessary goal of tripling world government spending on birth prevention to $17 billion a year. Thus, even the thought that there might be informed secular arguments against centralized population control was shut out of the debate. Cries of "Will no one save me from this meddlesome priest?" echoed through the still Cairo air, but it was howled with a wink…..

Since the Vatican is as much against genuine reproductive freedom as the mainstream popucrats, the real question about overpopulation wasn't asked at Cairo. What are we talking about when we talk about "overpopulation"? In his statements at the conference, Vice President Al Gore indulged in the usual anti-natalist trick of merely tossing out growing population numbers ominously, as if they were self-evidently frightening…..

Popucrats insist that only ignorance and lack of access to contraceptives make Third World women have as many babies as they do (though even less-developed nations' fertility rates are declining). Yet a recent World Bank-sponsored study found that "actual fertility increases almost one-for-one with desired fertility."

Though the Cairo document talks of reproductive freedom, the popucrats are bedeviled by pesky human desires that don't jibe with what they know is good for us. There is thus a stark contradiction between population goals and reproductive freedom…..

Some recent UN data on population, showing growth rates down to 1.2 percent annually, from 2 percent annually in the late 1960s.

Our own Ron Bailey explains why overpopulation fears are the bunk.

NEXT: Next Thing You Know, They'll Be Eating Them

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  1. instead of popucrats, which is pretty terrible, how about combining demography with bureaucracy to get democrats!

    thank you, I’m here all week.

  2. Bailey is right that overpopulation fears are totally bunk. It should also be emphasized that underpopulation fears, such as those plaguing Russia and Japan are just as bunk. If a country has a free economy, there will never be an underpopulation problem as productivity will increase to produce enough to care for the larger proportion of the elderly in the society. Also, letting in more immigrants can’t hurt. Trying to promote childbirth through public policy sickens me as much as trying to prevent it, and it is just as stupid and economically baseless.

    But then again, maybe I should leave such discussion to the breeders.

  3. If I wanted to, I could speculate about his motives (I’m sure somebody will claim it was a public relations stunt), but presumably any speculation would be irrelevant to someone actually benefitting from “improved health and education” in a poor nation.

  4. Doesn’t this help him get around the estate tax which would be pretty steep overall on an amount much over the base deduction?

  5. …and don’t forget that the two richest people in the world are both Democrats even though Republicans tend to be associated with wealth and power.

  6. Herrick:

    “It should also be emphasized that underpopulation fears, such as those plaguing Russia and Japan are just as bunk”

    The concern in Japan is that the elderly will starve – it is that “Japan” will cease to exist. The extinction of a culture is a tremendous loss. Stretched retirement dollars are of course a concern, too, but that is small change compared with the end of a society.

  7. Doesn’t this help him get around the estate tax which would be pretty steep overall on an amount much over the base deduction?

    I think you mean, doesn’t it help his heirs get around the estate tax.

  8. Sammy, nice catch. Not that I mind anyone managing to get around paying taxes.

  9. Last time I checked, Warren, bribing them to hurry up Halo 3 isn’t charitable.

    But it is the right thing to do. You sir, are truly, the……. only thing I can think of coming out of Omaha, besides steak and emo music.

  10. Jared,

    You forgot the meth.

  11. M’
    Considering that Buffett has long opposed the estate tax repeal and doesn’t believe in transferring that much wealth between generations, I don’t think this is a dodge. The reason Buffett doesn’t believe in intergenerational wealth transfers is that he doesn’t want to leave behind a legacy of idle, rich heirs.

  12. And we ask you: is this fair?

  13. Herrick,
    I respect your opinion as a non-breeder who can look at this issue cooly.

    Another thing: Is a war on population just another form of plain war?
    Aren’t governments already spending too much on that without the help of billionaires?

  14. “I think you mean, doesn’t it help his heirs get around the estate tax.”

    Yeah, that’s prettry evil, give it all away to charity so the goverment doesn’t get any – of course the heirs don’t get any either so I don’t understand how it’s better for them.

  15. It’s a simple suggestion about population control “If you can’t feed ’em, don’t breed ’em”

    Why are popucrats afraid to tell people this?

  16. Considering that Buffett has long opposed the estate tax repeal and doesn’t believe in transferring that much wealth between generations, I don’t think this is a dodge. The reason Buffett doesn’t believe in intergenerational wealth transfers is that he doesn’t want to leave behind a legacy of idle, rich heirs.

    Which is why Blii Gates Sr., who is (or was) the head of the Gates Foundation, was also opposed to killing the estate tax.

    God forbid he lose his subsidy, not that he really needs it.

  17. World’s Second Richest Man Gives It Away…to World’s Richest Man

    This title is Onion-Worthy.

    Seriously, though, if the Gates Foundation is doing good work then giving it to them seems like a good idea.

    The title is still Onion-Worthy.

  18. It should also be emphasized that underpopulation fears, such as those plaguing Russia and Japan are just as bunk.

    It’s not bunk when you have ponzi schemes looting the wealth of the young(er), such as Social Security and Medicare. The demographics of an aging population become very real under these circumstances.

    Luckily for the US, Third World immigrants, both 1st and then the 2nd generation, are happily replenishing that piece of the pie that the native born are naturally shirking with their First World wealth that make large families unnecessary.

  19. “If you can’t feed ’em, don’t breed ’em”

    Shoot first, and ask questions later.

  20. OK, looking back my own post…I guess you can’t be a Third World immigrant if you’re 2nd gen. But, you get the idea…

  21. DeAr Frend:
    My name is Waren Bufett. Until recently I had a fortune worth over 30 bilion dollors. I am giving it to charity, but have realized that my contribtion to sociaty can be increased of if I can shelter some of it in a secure account. I need the help of HONEST people like YOU to help.
    There is currently five million dollars in a hidden back…

  22. The concern in Japan is that the elderly will starve – it is that “Japan” will cease to exist. The extinction of a culture is a tremendous loss. Stretched retirement dollars are of course a concern, too, but that is small change compared with the end of a society.

    Ahh, the dulcet strains of the world’s smallest violin. Perhaps the elderly wouldn’t starve if their entire future existence weren’t tied to a primitive Ponzi scheme.

    Also, even if they’re very fond of their Ponzi scheme of robbing the future to pay for the past (as are we here in the U.S.), I suppose Japan could always, oh, I dunno…allow some AIDS-infected Africans to immigrate. After all, the unskilled and disease-ridden are people too, and they have the right to breed as many more disease-ridden, unproductive thugs as they want.

    I mean, I dunno about you, but I just get misty at the thought of some AIDS-infected hag in the Congo, grunting out her sixth kid, demanding the free AIDS treatment from Western donors that she and her family deserve. (I’m so glad that four of those six kids are girls, because there’s such a shortage of young prostitutes right now in Africa. You have to wait almost four minutes in line for one.)

    Societies come and go; they always have. The Etruscans are long gone, but that means they now have a lovely exhibit at the Met. Doesn’t anyone ever examine this assumption, before they spew it, that we need to keep breeding relentlessly, even against our wills, to pay for the past?

  23. Japan does not have a “pay-as-you-go” pension scheme. There are some who say it is a bad thing, but for the most part politicians have resisted it. For retirement the japanese have had to rely on their own savings (resulting in one of the world’s highest savings rates), their children’s sense of duty, and for the fortunate ones generous corporate pesions.

    As Chad pointed out above the only reason the japanese are concerned with the decline of their birthrate is the fear of the end of their culture. Of course this concern with culture also leads to them having a general anti-immigration policy as well.

  24. Funny, I heard Buffett was also offering or wants to offer some kind of insurance for those encumbered by extreme estate taxes.

    Even if not true, he apparently doesn’t believe we should be able to choose for ourselves to leave idle rich in our wake. Frell him.

    I’m sure his and Gates’ family will be taken care of quite well anyway or are they really just dumping the entire globule?

  25. Never mind poker- the serious money is in bridge.

  26. Hold on a second. What exactly are the “population control” activities the Gates Foundation is engaging in? Are they doing something beyond making contraception and abortion available to third-world women? If they’re simply empowering women to control their own lives through family planning, that would be very libertarian.

  27. M’ says “…and don’t forget that the two richest people in the world are both Democrats.”

    Actually, Bill Gates has been giving money to the Republicans since the Clinton Justice Dept. started their persecution of Microsoft under the anti-trust laws.

    Warren Buffett’s dad was a Republican Congressman and supporter of Robert Taft, but Buffett himself is a Democrat, but also a supporter of Gov. Schwarzenegger.

  28. I like this spectacle of the world’s two richest men and their philanthropic doings. Their activities appear quite ego-free, particularly with the older fellow cheerfully giving it all away to the younger one because he thinks he can do a better job of it.

    Did anybody read the FORTUNE interview with Buffett? He reveals some interesting details about how he likes to work and why he’s making this move. The world’s most successful men don’t usually talk about themselves this way.

    http://money.cnn.com/2006/06/25/magazines/fortune/charity2.fortune/index.htm

  29. I mean, I dunno about you, but I just get misty at the thought of some AIDS-infected hag in the Congo, grunting out her sixth kid, demanding the free AIDS treatment from Western donors that she and her family deserve.

    Gee, tell us how you really feel about blacks …

    Or are you just jealous that Gates and Buffet didn’t donate funds for your family to continue its inbreeding experiments …

  30. 9 billion by 2050!?!?

    If all goes to plan we will need at least 3 billion more…

    I have said to much.

  31. Japan does not have a “pay-as-you-go” pension scheme. There are some who say it is a bad thing, but for the most part politicians have resisted it.

    ??? Japan does so have a national pension scheme, which I had the opportunity to pay into for a year and a half. Here is a good English summary of it.

    http://www.consular.australia.or.jp/jppension.html

    For retirement the japanese have had to rely on their own savings (resulting in one of the world’s highest savings rates), their children’s sense of duty, and for the fortunate ones generous corporate pensions.

    Yes, which is making it more difficult than it should be to convince my gf to follow me over here.

    Japanese culture is a beautiful thing. I would hate to lose it, and so would they.

  32. But it is the right thing to do. You sir, are truly, the……. only thing I can think of coming out of Omaha, besides steak and emo music.

    emo music comes from nebraska?

    That explains absolutly nothing…must be the meth.

  33. “Luckily for the US, Third World immigrants…”

    Yup, even procreation is being off-shored. But I wonder if young people with absolutely no connection to the old people will be willing to taxed to support them?

  34. I think we all know what sort of charity George Soros will leave his money to….

    $420 million to drug legalization lobbying groups. Another $420 to farms growing marijuana for medical users. Another $420 million to….

  35. Gee, tell us how you really feel about blacks …

    Oops, you’re right, I forgot. Whenever you suggest that people (who just happen to be black) should perhaps take some personal responsibility for their own bodies and reproductive habits, you must be a racist! Sorry, Rev’ Sharpton, I forgot the rules.

    But hey, I’m used to taking crap like that. Whenever somebody dares to suggest that the unchecked growth of human life and its attendant earth-gagging mountains of excrement isn’t the finest, sweetest thing in the universe, such fellow usually suffers a barrage of personal attacks (such as your “inbreeding” crack — a Breeder Bingo classic, I must say) instead of responses. Still waiting, years later, for an answer that doesn’t read “Growth is always good…because, uh, because…it’s always good to have growth. Yeah, that’s it.”

    We didn’t die out when there were only a billion or two billion of us. The idea that an advanced society like Japan is going to fade from existence, just because its population drops to a level they’ve already easily surpassed (and with far fewer technological advances), is logic-free hysteria that’s risible beyond argument.

    Japan’s parent to an exceptionally resourceful culture; I don’t doubt that they, like the West, will by necessity engineer an economy that makes individuals, and not as-yet unborn serfs, more responsible for their own elder care.

    I don’t think it’s unreasonable to consider, either, that more of our work will be done by computers and machines, as we age. Japan itself is on the bleeding edge of consumer robotic technology.

  36. I lived in Japan before, too. There’s beauty but there’s just as much stupidity and ugliness as well. They could do with opening up there immigration restrictions to help support the pension system (if that’s what they’re worried about – not being able to support their aging population). Their culture won’t die out – it will just become something different. Most of their culture anyway, is just innovations of other cultures, from China, Japan, Great Britain, and America. And that’s basically what culture is – just taking something that works or is interesting or beautiful and then tweaking it to meet one’s own needs or tastes.

  37. Edit: “Korea” for “Japan” in “…from China, Japan, Great Britain, and America.”

  38. Dearest Bill Gates

    Respected Sir,
    I belong to pakistan & pakistani family first of all, I appreciate your efforts that you are working for latest technologies and welfare trust, having seen your such idoloies i have aroused my curiosity to do somthing in my future. I belong to news egency in pakistan. I don’t have alot of resources mean to say financially ground. I want you to support me financially or as you thing better. I will return you which you do something for me while earning. I hope you will do having thought something i’m requesting you to help. There is much shortage of money alot of people are tantalizing for medicines, Jobs, ect. I’m quite expected that you will dosomething and concider my letter sympathetically. I’m very poor person, living in short house length of house is 80 yard. Your support can change my future. I hope my ALLAH will do better accept my pray, and you will be my assist.
    I have been trying for along time to achieve my aim, but still i’m not disappointed and will never be beacuse disappointed is athesim. I know “No gain without pain.” always person should stuggle and work hard for getting something which steps have been taken by you and your wife really able to appreciate and pay tribute. My heart says you will do something positively for my application. I want my childern to make their future bright, and all childern of this society, and to do these finance keeps importance.

    Thankig you.

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