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Economist: Ralph Nader’s “Only The Super-rich Can Save Us!” inspired the Buffett-Gates “giving pledge” initiative

Economist: Ralph Nader’s “Only The Super-rich Can Save Us!” inspired the Buffett-Gates “giving pledge” initiative

June 18, 2010

From the June 17 edition of the Economist:

One of the unlikeliest books of last year was “Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!”, a fictional account by Ralph Nader, a veteran left-wing campaigner, of a movement of billionaires led by Warren Buffett and featuring, among others, Ted Turner, George Soros and Barry Diller, who use their fortunes to clean up America. This was not, as you might suppose, a satire but what Mr Nader called “an exercise in practical Utopianism”. He even met Mr Buffett to urge him to take up the challenge.

Perhaps the Sage of Omaha, as Mr Buffett is known, was listening. On June 16th, with Bill Gates and his wife, Melinda, he launched a campaign to persuade America’s billionaires to give away much of their fortunes. They are invited to take the “giving pledge” by writing a public letter promising to donate 50% or more of their wealth. Mr Buffett himself has written the first, which is published on a website, givingpledge.org. He says he will ultimately give away 99% of his wealth, most of which he has already pledged to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Although the letters will not be legally binding, they are intended to create a moral obligation which will be reinforced by peer pressure from others who take the pledge—a bit like members of Alcoholics Anonymous who promise to stay off the booze.

As we said in our press materials for the book: Picture it, and it can happen.

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