Open Letter to Warren Buffet

Dear Warren,

I recently saw that you intend to give 99% of your funds to charities, that makes no sense. This government allowed you to accumulate this wealth, and a decent percentage of your equity should end up there.

I am active in Patriotic Millionaires, and this is part of the memo I sent them.

I saw on television yesterday that Buffett plans to give 99% of his wealth to Foundations. This is not right.

I would suggest that everything over $5 million should cause an inheritance tax of about 15%.  This would cost me $10 million, but I still think it makes sense.

When I sold the Bradco business in 2008, I ended up with about $500 million. The kids had stock in Bradco, so they got part of that money.  The government got a big portion of the proceeds.

I met some people at Clinton Global International and started the Segal Family Foundation, which is active in Sub-Saharan Africa. In a little over 10 years, we have accomplished major things in Philanthropy – we do not accept donations outside of the family. Our equity is in the $100 million area, and we have over 300 grantees.

I read that “Kamala Harris pledged the U.S. would boost economic and educational opportunities in Central America, saying she wanted to restore “hope” so residents would no longer feel the need to flee north.” That could be an opportunity for you. You could fund something similar in Central America where there is a strong need.   It would also make your legacy more impressive.

Next, I met Jennifer and Peter at CGI years ago. I also sent them a check for $10k that they politely returned.

I understand that NoVo dropped a bombshell on feminist funding. Marc Gunther reports in the Chronicle of Philanthropy that NoVo Foundation has laid off half of its staff, backed out of the Women’s Building project, and is otherwise downsizing its operations in the gender equity funding arena. “It’s about time other people ponied up,” said Peter Buffett in the Chronicle Review. I do not understand what is happening here.

SFF would never do that. When we started, we had some grantees too high, and we backed them slowly down to $100k annually and made them aware of what we are doing, so they could replace the funds.

Tax wise it does not make much difference whether you give a big chunk away now, or at your death, but you should try to organize your thoughts and do something impactful with the money now.

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