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Buffett's & Gate's World View

Just finishing watching Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, and Charlie Munger (Warren's long time business partner) graciously giving an in-depth 3-hour interview on CNBC this morning.

It was amazing to be reminded how these fine men contribute to the betterment, particularly of the least fortunate, around the globe. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has made massive inroads against malaria, and has seen only 5 new cases of polio this year, hoping for complete eradication in three years. Gates mentioned that to conquer poverty, simply throwing money at it is not the solution (my words, not his). Rather, there must be a combination of persistent and fortuitous effort in health, education, and effective government to bring about such a paradigm change. The trio pointed out that the USA ($30B), with Germany and Great Britain close behind ($18B each), contribute massively from the vastness of the public treasury, far more than private philanthropy can accomplish. Gates suggested that philanthropy can more effectively innovate, and target sub-goals, than can governments.

Last year alone, Buffett contributed $2.9 Billion to the Gates Foundation, and has been making similar contributions for a number of years (he lives in the same home he purchased in Omaha over 50 years ago). Munger was especially animated in addressing the paring of waste in health care, including outright fraud and also over-treatment. (Lesser known is that Munger graduated from my alma mater, the University of Michigan, and recently gave $100 Million for the construction of a beautiful, innovative and learning-centric graduate student "dormitory").

These gentlemen could be living a very private sector life of great largess, as some with similar vast means do in accompaniment with massive and gaudy hoopla. Their significant time on these worthwhile projects has been a added part of their investment. Fortuitously for so many, Buffett, Gates & company are not only exceptionally humble, but have also adopted a mindset that their great business success comes with great responsibility. To be honest, I wanted so badly, somehow, to thank them personally through my TV screen, in awe of their concern and actions on behalf of worldwide wellness. Perhaps one of them will catch word of this modest attempt at sincere appreciation. Perhaps many of us might respect, just a bit more, that bridge, much as we love it, is but a part of a whole and wholesome life.

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