Bill Gates is incredibly wealthy; in fact, he’s the most wealthy person in the world. The co-founder of Microsoft and a noted investor, Gates is also well-known for his philanthropy work, mainly through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which has a hand in charitable donations to causes ranging from reducing HIV infections abroad to college-ready education and post secondary success here in the U.S. Overall, Gates is the recipient of much praise for his charitable work, but he is in the limelight recently because of one wealthy man’s criticism that Gates’ pledge is “practically worthless.”
When Gates asked Robert W. Wilson to sign The Giving Pledge back in 2010, Wilson had a few choice, unsavory words to say on the matter. The charity, which is founded by Gates, asks pledgers to give the majority of their wealth to charity, whether it be during their lifetime or through the use of a will. When Wilson was approached, he declined the offer, saying that the pledge was “practically worthless” and critiquing a loophole in the pledge that allowed pledgers to donate to family-owned charities and foundations.
“And these foundations become, more often than not, bureaucracy-ridden sluggards,” Wilson went on to say in an email sent out in June of 2010, which was addressed to Gates. A copy of the email found its way to the internet, showing up on websites such as BuzzFeed. Wilson also said that he was “going to stay away from [Gates’] effort” in the same email. In a reply email, Gates wrote that pledge signers would “benefit greatly from [Wilson] joining in,” and that he might inspire younger generations to also give to charitable causes. In response to this, Wilson wrote, “You, being a liberal, think you can change people more than I think… When I talk to young people who seem destined for great success, I tell them to forget about charities and giving. Concentrate on your families and getting rich — which I found very hard work. When people reach 50 and are beginning to slow down is the time to begin engaging them in philanthropy.”
Sadly, Wilson took his own life just a week ago, jumping from luxury high rise after suffering from a severe stroke. He donated millions to charity before jumping from the building and ending his life. The Gates Foundation has not released any further word on the situation as it comes to light under such solemn circumstances.
Image courtesy of this Tweet from the official Bill Gates Twitter page.