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Warren Buffett Pledges around $30 Billion to Gates Foundation

Warren Buffett, the world's second richest person, has donated nearly 85 percent of his fortune to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to help fight disease and poverty and improve education.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    Warren Buffett gives away most of his fortune. NewsHour correspondent Kwame Holman begins with a report on today's announcement.

  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    … announcements, Warren Buffett himself broke the news in yesterday's edition of Fortune magazine. Buffett, who is 75, said he'd give away 85 percent of his total wealth, most of which will be donated gradually to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

    This afternoon, the three friends spoke to reporters.

  • WARREN BUFFETT, Billionaire Businessman:

    I have used the Gates Foundation as an example when I talk to students of a terribly successful organization that would, per dollar spent, as also is true with the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation, per dollar spent, I think the results are terrific, in terms of improving the lives of people around the world.

    So that would be my choice. Other people can look and see how this turns out, and maybe they will find a model that they want to emulate, if the results are as good as I anticipate they will be.

  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    Buffett, the world's second-richest man behind Bill Gates, amassed his wealth through his insurance and investment company, Berkshire- Hathaway. The company, based in Omaha, Nebraska, bought shares in big name companies whose value kept increasing, including Proctor and Gamble, Coca-Cola, Dairy Queen, and Fruit of the Loom.

    Buffett will join the Gates' as the trustees of their foundation, the largest charitable foundation in the world. To date, the Gates Foundation has put more than $10 billion into education and global health initiatives.

    During the trio's TV interview today with PBS's Charlie Rose, Melinda and Bill Gates talked about the impact Buffett's donation could make.

    MELINDA GATES, Wife of Bill Gates: For us, it's just fantastic, because we look at it as doubling the impact. The diseases we've already been working on and the education and the inequities that we've been looking at for so long just basically double by Warren's gift, and it's incredible the depth that we'll be able to go to on some of these global health issues.

    CHARLIE ROSE, Host, "Charlie Rose": Bill?

  • BILL GATES, Billionaire Businessman:

    Well, it's a huge responsibility. And, in some ways, if you make mistakes with your own money, you don't feel as bad about it as if it was someone else's.

    (LAUGHTER)

  • BILL GATES:

    So now we're, you know, even more intent on doing it right. And it's a very exciting time, the advances in medicine and other things we can do to relieve poverty. We've been making good progress. And with the doubling of resources, we think our impact can even more than double.

  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    The precise dollar amount of Buffett's annual donation will be tied to the value of Berkshire's stock. Each year, the Gates Foundation will receive about 5 percent of the outstanding Berkshire stock earmarked for it. This year, that stock is worth about $1.5 billion. The foundation is obligated to spend the money before the end of each year.

    Four other charitable foundations, run by Buffett's family members, will receive smaller donations. Today, Buffett was asked why he didn't give more to his three children.

  • WARREN BUFFETT:

    I don't believe in creating dynastic wealth. My children have all received money from me and my wife. They'll receive more on my death. But they are in the privileged top 1 percent at least of the population, perhaps the top .1 percent, even.

    But I don't really believe that in a society that aspires to be meritocratic and that believes in equality of opportunity — my kids have had advantage over 99 percent of the kids in the country…

  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    Buffett also said on "Charlie Rose" his plan could pay off for his company, too.

  • CHARLIE ROSE:

    This is the right time to do it?

  • WARREN BUFFETT:

    Yes, I do, Charlie. Yes, you know, I've had a good chance to see what they've done. I feel Berkshire is positioned better than ever for the future.

    One thing about is, if I had given the stock in a lump amount, there might be people that say that they were too concentrated in one stock and that sort of thing. Well, I want the well-being of their foundation to be sort of concentrated in Berkshire, because I think it's going to do very well, so I wouldn't want to be forced to sell it and, you know, buy government bonds or something of the sort. So, this way, I think — I don't see how it could be any better.

  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    The full interview with Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates will be aired tonight on the "Charlie Rose Show" on most PBS stations.

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