(p. A15) Successful entrepreneurs-turned-philanthropists typically say they feel a responsibility to “give back” to society. But “giving back” implies they have taken something. What, exactly, have they taken? Yes, they have amassed great sums of wealth. But that wealth is the reward they have earned for investing their time and talent in creating products and services that others value. They haven’t taken from society, but rather enriched us in ways that were previously unimaginable.
. . .
Let’s hope the philanthropy of those who . . . sign the Giving Pledge achieves great things. But let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that businessmen are likely to achieve more by giving their money away than they have by making it in the first place.
For the full commentary, see:
Kimberly O. Dennis. “Gates and Buffett Take the Pledge; Wealthy businessmen often feel obligated to ‘give back.’ Who says they’ve taken anything?” The Wall Street Journal (Fri., AUGUST 20, 2010): A15.
(Note: ellipses added.)