Why Give Back?

Peter Namtvedt's picture

It has not been just Bill Gates. A large number of times I have noted in the news the mention of wealthy persons announcing that they are launching some charity effort. This is truly in the American tradition. We would have a less oppressive government if people funneled some excess resources to charities instead of voting to tax us all for the sake of the poor.

But the real complaint is that when several of these wealthy people make their massive donations, they announce that they are "giving back" something to the community. So, before they did that, had they been guilty of having "taken too much" from the community? Did Microsoft overcharge us all these 25 or 30 years? Is that why the primary shareholder of Microsoft announced a year or so back that his and his wife's foundation is a way of "giving back?"

Adam Smith gave us quite a different picture of the entrepreneur or capitalist when he wrote about our not counting on the benevolence of the baker or butcher, etc., to provide us our dinner. The business person performs a totally perfect service to society when they do what is necessary to sell their product. Both parties are better off, both seller and buyer. No need for a follow-up action on either part to "give back."

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Giving Back

As long as Gates et al are sharing by free will and not by state coercion, I am as comfortable with them paying for charity as I am with them buying fleets of sports cars.

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Peter says:

The road to hell is paved with good intentions...

Peter also writes for Ada Byron's Blog.