Buffett Gives Largest Philanthropic Gift in History

Warren Buffett — not known as a particularly principled supporter of capitalism, though clearly talented at making money — has long planned to give away his fortunes when he died. But he’s decided to move up the timetable.
From the article “Warren Buffett gives away his fortune” published today in Fortune Magazine:

Buffett, 75, has for decades said his wealth would go to philanthropy but has just as steadily indicated the handoff would be made at his death. Now he was revising the timetable.
“I know what I want to do,” he said, “and it makes sense to get going.” On that spring day his plan was uncertain in some of its details; today it is essentially complete. And it is typical Buffett: rational, original, breaking the mold of how extremely rich people donate money.
Buffett has pledged to gradually give 85% of his Berkshire stock to five foundations. A dominant five-sixths of the shares will go to the world’s largest philanthropic organization, the $30 billion Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, whose principals are close friends of Buffett’s (a connection that began in 1991, when a mutual friend introduced Buffett and Bill Gates).
The Gateses credit Buffett, says Bill, with having “inspired” their thinking about giving money back to society. Their foundation’s activities, internationally famous, are focused on world health — fighting such diseases as malaria, HIV/AIDS, and tuberculosis — and on improving U.S. libraries and high schools.

Giving money to charity can be a very good thing, if the money gets spent well, and infectious diseases are a great problem to address through private charity rather than government appropriations.
But when we hear Buffett and Gates claiming that this is their way of “giving back to society” (as though they were looters up to this point, rather than trading value-for-value with every day they worked) it all starts sounding like a scene from Atlas Shrugged — and not a good one.
If they really want to give to society, they should stop apologizing for their success and start promoting values like political freedom, private property, and free markets — values that not only allowed them to become wealthy, but will allow future generations to do the same.