Wealth should lead to charity

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Wealth should lead to charity

Singled out as an all-time favorite read of America’s richest and most famous philanthropists Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, “Business Adventures,” a collection of essays written by journalist John Brooks, has returned to best-seller shelves 25 years after it was first printed. The out-of-print compendium of 1960s New Yorker articles became the top searched for e-book item among online booksellers after Microsoft founder Gates wrote in The Wall Street Journal that it “remains the best business book I’ve ever read.”

Gates first read the book after stock guru Buffet recommended and lent it to him 23 years ago. Gates kept the book with its tattered pages all these years. He wrote in the article, “Warren, if you’re reading this, I still have your copy.” A shared fondness of the book among the world’s most successful entrepreneurs is not surprising considering its wondrous insights into management guidelines and business topics ranging from the rise of Xerox to scandals at General Electric, all of which are still very much applicable in today’s business world.

Gates and Buffet are well-known friends who are interested in similar charities and hobbies and have both amassed great wealth. Buffet first met Gates in 1991 when the latter had been an aspiring computer engineer. In 2010 the two launched the “The Giving Pledge” campaign encouraging wealthy people to give money to philanthropic causes. Buffet donated 21.97 million shares of his company Berkshire Hathaway, worth an estimated $2.8 billion, to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other funds created by the Gates for charity causes. Dubbed a wizard of investment, Buffet has given donations to organizations that he believed would put his money toward the best cause.

Since the favorite book of two of the world’s most famous businessmen was released, many companies have come and gone over the quarter of a century. But as the book shows with its timeless wisdom, the fundamentals of business management do not change. What has been proven is that at the end of the day, it is the companies and entrepreneurs that not only seek profit, but also show an interest in social duties and public responsibilities that endure. Companies that transfer revenue into investing in people and products and share their benefits with society are respected and successful.

Philanthropy should be a practice common in advanced societies. Korean companies too must join and willingly commit themselves to contribute in reducing social inequalities and bettering lives in our society.

JoongAng Ilbo, July 21, Page 30

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