Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Warren/Bill's "Giving Pledge" & the World Citizen's "Receiving Pledge"

Warren Buffett, Bill Gates and their billionaire buddies are trying to give away most of their money. No kidding. In letters to Buffett from the converted philanthropists (now numbering 73), [1] after all the years of struggle, enriching and distributing bits and pieces here and yon, it finally not only dawned on them they couldn't take it with them anyway when they cashed out of the Here and Now but that the world could go BANG! even before they reached the Pearly Gates...Besides, given that the majority of humanity is—what was that number again: 99%? —"disadvantaged", this 1% with their out-of-sight loot cannot but feel somewhat embarrassed if not humiliated to be counted in such a minuscule minority of humankind. So now they are professing publicly for all to know how happy they would be, thanks to Warren and Bill, to meet their Maker dead broke or near enough (as if He/She cared).[2]

In brief, the Nos. 1 and 2 (and spouses, no doubt) of this loaded hierarchy–excepting Carlos Helu of Mexico who tops both by an astounding $18 billion—considered it was high time what with all the irritating, public "Occupying" souls everywhere you looked.
Buffett/Gates calls it "The Giving Pledge."[3]

Their real problem, however, isn't the millions of deprived of the world but that the world’s people en masse are in danger of totally disappearing in a nuclear cloud, them (and their foundations) included. (See Ted Turner’s "problems" that concern him the most in the appendix of "quotes" from their letters to Buffett)
(Note: Warren, Bill, and all your flush if restless crowd: We proposed in 2007 a more relevant survival program[4]. I dubbed it "The Receiving Pledge" kind of) But nobody blinked so far
To those of us who are already broke, or slowly getting there, yet who have worthy humanitarian projects en route requiring serious funding, if there is new hope it is yet mixed with frustration. How to revive our own "Receiving Pledge" for this vaunted membership sheathed in layers of highly-salaried defenders?

We appreciate that giving billions away is hard, if highly rewarding work. First of all, how do you actually do it? Well, you don't. Your Foundation does except for drips and dabs. That spreads the work. It also complicates it. The staff takes the first bite. Then the board of directors. Next the lawyers, investment counselors and accountants. After that, the web masters, Facebook & Twitter coordinators and finally the public relations and media team. Finally, who or what is worthy enough to justify your largesse? OK, universities are a safe and obvious choice. Besides, you get a building, stadium or scholarship grants named after your demise. The U's are always seeking a handout especially from their own alumni. Then there are the never-ending religious supplicants, another safe choice, from the faithful. (with relevant quotes from the scriptures). Now the difficult part: who or what else do you donate to? I mean, most everyone else wants a handout, some more desperately than others. Choices, choices. And what kind of organization or individual can actually handle that much do-re-mi?

Well, for one, we world citizens could use a mite, say, a mere billion...for a start. What for? You see, we are intensely interested in surviving on the planet. (Many of you profess the same in your letters to Warren). And to do that we need a global code of conduct called "laws". World laws, to be blunt, to outlaw war which we consider the ultimate crime, not to mention insanity. And for that, we desperately need our own world court to defend our human rights, since our very lives are now threatened by the entire warring nation-state system.[5] We're talking here about World War III, the FINIS. It will kill us humans whatever our fictional nationality, religion, cultural linkages, or indeed, wealth or indigence.

After all, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights acknowledges that "Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law." But where is and what is the law for "everyone"? Sounds like world law to this writer (who in a former national life was a B-17 bomber pilot in WWII[6]). But law must be adjudicated. And, having been hauled into 31 national courts (and jails) since 1948 following my claim of world citizenship after becoming "stateless", I myself became "World Litigant No. 1" but with no world court to plead my case.[7]

Yes Siree, that billion bucks, (euros, yen, pesos, pounds, riyals, wons or whatever) would be a big start to staking our own World Court of Human Rights to the world map just for we humans, NOT nation-states. After all, it's our planet not the fictional nation-state and though we share it with millions of other species, we call ourselves "sovereign" which, in my Thesaurus, means "supreme." Indeed there is already uniform and enthusiastic agreement re the vital need for a world human rights court among all jurists of whatever ilk for a world community where war is still insanely considered a legitimate option despite its now genocidal character as of August 5, 1945. And there are already thousands of out-of-work judges for hire to exercise their legal expertise on such a court. Where is Judge C.G. Weeramantry when you need him? And, incidentally, what’s Sandra Day O’Connor doing now for heaven’s sake? Or Judge Goldstone? Indeed, the world-renowned City Montessori school in Lucknow has been having yearly meetings since 2001 of national Supreme Court judges conferring on and enthusiastically supporting the subject of "international law." Then the International Association of Women Jurists, 4000 members are devoted to justice for women (and men) sanctioned by human rights and world law yet has no court to adjudicate horrendous violations of womankind all over the world.

But Judges have to be paid, and operate in a court in a heated building with clerks and running water (maybe next to the ICC in The Hague or on an island in the Mediterranean) and a cluster of regional courts chaired with associate justices, etc., etc. A billion would do for a start but just think what a bargain if that court (ours) OUTLAWED WAR. (the Statute of which already does just that!)[8]

The nations' global military budget for 2011 was $2,157,172,000,000! That's 2 trillion, etc. And that doesn't count the environmental damage to the planet which is incalculable. A world without war would be a world of abundance. A metamorphic change in human affairs. A paradigm shift in human evolution. A blessing to all the kids of the planet who wonder now whether we adults are not stark raving mad to even contemplate genocidal war and why did we bring them into the world anyway if only to blow them up?

So, nothing to lose, I downloaded the letters the "Giving Pledge" member were obliged to write to Buffett explaining their reasons for wanting to participate, an extraordinarily revealing read. As I perused from letter to letter the intimate thoughts of these fellow humans, I realized to my astonishment (and some chagrin) that here were real concerned people, (like you and me) and many were couples. Indeed many were concerned about the state of the world. Take Joyce and Bill Cummings for instance who wrote that 1) "The lessons of the Holocaust are too vital to be forgotten or denied"; 2) "Genocides are still occurring around the world"; and 3) "We cannot simply sit quietly and let them happen.” Frankly, after reading that, my mind raced to find out what they intended to do about stopping the “Biggest-Holocaust-in-the-Making via The Bomb”. Alas, though they continued that “Convinced that real change can come from the next generation of world citizens, we created the interfaith ‘Cummings/Hillel Program for Holocaust and Genocide Education’ at Tufts University.” (Emphasis added) In short, let’s leave it to the next generation to make world peace cause we, the living, don’t know how to do it. (Note to Bill and Joyce Cummings: There may not be a “next generations of world citizens” if this generation of world citizens, you and your progeny, are blown away by WWIII).

The Cummings couple, however, did seem to recognize that peace and justice were corollaries since one of their subsidiaries, formed in 2010, is an Institute for World Justice, LLC. “which we hope will play a role in reducing genocide, as well as all the societal problems that lead to it…”[9] (Emphasis added) .” No further mention, however, in the web site of the Institute of the practice of “world justice” and its framework or adjudication process: “the maintenance or administration of what is just according to law.”[10]

The letter concluded: “…we welcome the support and partnership of others who share our belief that genocide should be a matter of great concern and responsibility for all people.” We heartily agree Richard and Joyce. Please make your check out to the “World Court of Human Rights Fund”[11] and forward to World Government House, POB 9390, South Burlington, VT 05407. Thank you in anticipation.[12]

Not to single out this concerned couple, I read every letter underlining passages relevant to our global project of world peace through adjudicated law. (Appended)

Thus for the rest of the “Giving Pledgees” (including, of course, Warren and Bill) we, world citizens, can employ your largesse beneficially as well for humanity’s benefit. Because the sooner the WCHR takes shape and begins adjudicating the inalienable rights of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” along with the other inalienable rights in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights the happier you all will feel and maybe even thank us for our initiative in unburdening you from a modicum of your earthly gains so that you can depart peacefully in good conscience before meeting face-to-face, as it were, with YOUKNOWWHO.


As our philanthropy continues in the years ahead, we will look for new opportunities to make a difference in the lives of future generations.

We view our wealth…not as an end in itself, but as an instrument to effect positive and transformative change. We are blessed to embark on this critical endeavor at a relatively early stage in our lives and with a great sense of urgency.

Those who have been blessed with extraordinary wealth have an opportunity, some would say a responsibility—we consider it a privilege to give back to their communities, be they local, national or global...We view our grants as investments, and we expect a return.

…what really drove us was the mission of building a new medium that could empower individuals…we seek to inspire individuals to realize their potential to create change…We want to use all the tools available to us, to have the greatest impact, and to achieve the greatest good....We share the view that those to whom much is given, much is expected.…we also want to reaffirm our ongoing commitment to encouraging a citizen-centered approach to philanthropy…

…Andrew Carnegie said “He who dies rich, dies disgraced.”…Sir Winston Churchill observed that “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”…it is written in the Talmud that “a man’s net worth is measured not by what he earns but rather what he gives away.”

When we earned more money, we experienced relief and then the diminishing benefits of having more money...We experienced directly what the studies on happiness show—that once the basis are covered there is no correlation between how much money one has and how happy one is...We had planned to give most of our money to those it will most help anyway.

Living is giving. I won’t deprive my family of knowing how good it feels to help those in need with some of the basics we already have…food, shelter, care and a future.I plan to help the world now and in the future…with half (if not more) of what I have been blessed with today.

I have already given hundreds of millions of dollars to medical research and education, and I will give billions more over time.…I have done this giving quietly….So why am I going public now? Warren Buffett personally asked me to write this letter because he said it would be ‘setting an example’ and ‘influencing others’ to give.

I cannot think of a more personally rewarding and appropriate use of wealth than to give while one is living—to personally devote oneself to meaningful efforts to improve the human condition....The challenges, even set backs, I have experienced in my decades of personal engagement in philanthropy pale in comparison to the impact and deep personal satisfaction we have realized.

We have always felt a strong obligation to lead by example. Through our giving pledge, we hope to encourage others to commit their time and resources to worthy causes that will enable other people with ambition and tenacity to achieve their goals.

I wish to make the world a better place….At my death my entire estate and my foundation will be distributed to charities I have designated....“Science is the solution to most of the world’s challenges, be they food shortage, energy, medicine or pollution. These matters have become my life’s interests….the (Hockaday) women who will solve many of these problems. I thought it would be fun to set the bar high.”

People wait until late in their careers to give back. But why wait when there is so much to be done? With a generation of younger folks who have thrived on the success of their companies, there is a big opportunity for many of us to give back earlier in our lifetimes and see the impact of our philanthropic efforts.”

We're honored to be in such great company and we pledge to do our small part to make the world a better place for our children and grandchildren.

…those who have benefited the most from our economic system have a responsibility to give back to society in a meaningful way.

I suppose I arrived at my charitable commitment largely through guilt....I am entranced by Warren’s and Bill’s visionary appeal to those who have accumulated unconscionable resources, to dedicate at least half of them back to purposes more useful than dynastic perpetuation....If enough acolytes follow Bill’s and Warren’s example, then maybe we will more closely approach the idea of equal opportunity throughout the United States and the world

…when we set up our personal foundation and committed to give 95% of our wealth to charitable causes whether during our lifetimes or at our deaths, we never dreamed that there would be such a gathering of like-minded individuals who firmly believe in the favorable impact of giving on the world.

…..your graceful letter…conveys a spiritual purpose that has long been close to our hearts…It is inspiring how such a simple idea puts faith into action for the community as a whole.

I began to realize the importance of money consists of buying what is worth the price...Throughout the world without an exception, education is the determinant of a person’s intelligence level and possible success. And success is not making a million a month or a year. It’s earning enough to live comfortably and being able to finance children’s education...As we went into the 21st century, I began quipping that I want to die broke...The larger the estate, the more important it is to revitalize the soil.

Storytellers are teachers and communicators who speak a universal language...Good storytelling is based on truths and insights, and a good storyteller is ultimately a teacher…We are the facilitators….This level of engagement dates back to the beginning of human life…There have to be universal standards…We need to build new foundations, fostering independent thought and a desire to keep learning….We need to promote critical thinking…prepare our children for the real world….working together and building character…as a means to a greater end.

…God gifted me with a mind for understanding business, and that gift would allow me to carry out His work through contributions to great missions throughout the world…

…you save one life and you save the world.

I came into the world penniless and as a Catholic Christian, I know I cannot take any of it with me...I knew that all these things would pass away and that the only think that really mattered was the state of my soul…I now began to look for how I could really be effective, really make a difference in what truly mattered; in people’s eternal lives….I realized that to have a more global impact, I would need to focus on Catholic higher education…

(Helped create Facebook) Today, I view that reward not as personal wealth, but as a tool with which I hope to bring even more benefit to the world...We will donate and invest with both urgency and mindfulness arriving to foster a safer, healthier and more economically empowered global community.

Our view is fairly simple…There’s no need to hold onto it when it can be put to use today, to help solve some of the world/s intractable problems…Our common challenge is not necessarily about dollar’s raise, it’s about discovering the most efficient and effective use of our resources and leaving a legacy of hope for those to come.

I have always been interested in giving to projects that may not get done otherwise. If the research wasn’t productive, I would have spent money to no avail, but if the idea worked, the potential was enormous—it was a risk I was willing to take…I can think of no greater example as to why giving now and seeing the benefits first hand can be the single most rewarding thing any of us can do.

…I recognize that to have any significant impact on an organization or a cause, one must concentrate resources, and make transformative gifts—and to be involved in making certain those gifts transform in a positive way. And I am heading in that direction…Everyone can and should give, and everyone can and should feel that their gifts may make the world a little bit better place...My hope, again, is that individuals of all levels of resources will also increase their giving, and feel they are helping their countries and humanity by doing so….so as to bring whatever benefits come from giving to the world a bit sooner.

When you think about it, no other approach seems to make sense. Passing down fortunes from generation to generation can do irreparable harm. In addition, there is no way to spend a fortune. How many residences, automobiles, airplanes and other luxury items can one acquire and use?...The Buffett/Gates initiative is likely to be a major “game changer.”.Believe it or not, the psychic income — the highs if you will — associated with giving money away thoughtfully and effectively has even been more gratifying than running a successful business.

…I also pledge to continue working to encourage others, including emerging philanthropists of all ages and all capacities, to join us in seeking to repair the world; the further we broaden our reach, the more we will benefit from a diversity of people, perspectives and approaches we strive to tackle problems of common concern.

In the years we have left, we want to continue to try and do whatever small part we can to leave the world a little better that we found it. That return on investment would be unquantifiable and something we would cherish the most...We are firm believers that shrouds don’t have pockets.

My experiences with organizations like the Better World Society opened my eyes to the power of assembling a team of international leaders to address global issues.…it was time for me to get out in front of the parade...After the billion dollar pledge, I challenged my fellow billionaires to do more.I’ve discovered that the more people you meet, the more you learn, and the more you learn, the more you want to help, and the more you help, the better you feel...These days I’m putting my resources and energies toward tackling the worlds more important issues...The three problems that concern me the most are the threat of nuclear annihilation, climate change and the continuing growth of the world’s population...“Ted, it could be that these problems can/t be solved, but what can men of good conscience do but keep trying until the very end.” (Cousteau to Turner)…at the time of my death, virtually all of my wealth will have gone to charity...I’m particularly thankful for my father’s advice to set goals so high that they can’t possibly be reached during a lifetime and to give help where help is needed most. That inspiration keeps me energized and eager to help keep working hard every day on giving back and making the world a better place for generations to come.


[1] There are 1210 billionaires worldwide according to Forbes, Inc
[2] “He who dies rich, dies disgraced.” (Andrew Carnegie)
[3] http://givingpledge.org/
[4] See View From My Space, Memo To The World’s Billionaires, March 15, 2007 “I tell you what. Let's start a World Citizens' Billionaire's Club and you can all become members. The membership fee will be a paltry $50 million. That'll give it a starting net worth of $473,000,000. Then we'll start a bank, a world bank, and use the fees as capital, minus expenses and overhead, to print and issue world money against national currencies. (A Bucky Fuller idea, incidentally, who wrote that money was only 'crystallized energy' and proposed 'kilowatt dollars' as the world currency*). After all, national currencies are 'floating' out there between nations anarchically with no real solid base like goods and services….Then there’s wars to get rid of. Who can afford them anymore?....And besides, If WWIII starts, your billions won’t be worth the paper they’re printed on…”
[5] “Peace is order based on law. There is no other imaginable definition.” (Emery Reves, The Anatomy of Peace, 1946
[6] And before that an actor on Broadway who went to high school in a Rolls-Royce.
[7] See http://www.worldservice.org/cat.html?s=4#books
[8] See http://www.worldservice.org/wsalstat.html
[9] Another reason for a court on the world level which adjudicates violations of human rights including arbitrary detention only protected by the habeas corpus principle.
[10] Webster’s College Dictionary, 1991
[11] Peoples United Bank, Account #097802533335,
[12] See www.worldservice.org/cat.html?s=4#books