Monday, March 8, 2021
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As the saying goes: Fingers are not equal All over the world, there is a grossly unequal gap between the rich and the poor. Inequality poses a great danger to mankind. According to a UNDP Report titled: ‘Humanity Divided,’ (2014) the richest one per cent of the world population now owns about 40 per cent of the world’s assets, while the bottom half owns not more than one percent! The report states clearly that Confronting inequality in developing countries shows that if left unchecked, inequality can undermine the very foundations of development and social and domestic peace. Just as there are poor people here, there are also poor and homeless people on the streets of the First World. sThe only difference is obviously the intensity of poverty and how this problem staring humanity in the face is addressed by different societies.

One of the goals of TERRIFIC HEADLINES is to contribute to national soul-searching, given the expectations of the populace from government, create platforms for exchange of ideas and opinions, and also promote those issues that are considered ideal for the development processes. 1.2 billion people continue to live on under US$1.25 dollars a day. It has been established that inequalities in income and wealth are often compounded by inequalities in access to power, and disparities in health and education. Wherever poverty is to be combated effectively, there must be cooperation between the Government and institutions, particularly private sector operators. There must be redistribution of income by way of philanthropy, particularly by the private sector. For instance, the Tata group, the largest Indian conglomerate which accounts for 3.2% of India’s GDP, devotes two-thirds of its profits every year to philanthropy.

World leaders are not unaware of challenges posed by pervasive extreme poverty. United Nations celebrated its seventieth anniversary with the approval of its 17 Sustainable Development Goals with 169 associated targets, that are integrated. Heads of Government noted, among other Resolutions, that they were Meeting at a time of immense challenges to sustainable development. Billions of our citizens continue to live in poverty and are denied a life of dignity. There are rising inequalities within and among countries. There are enormous disparities of opportunity, wealth and power. Gender inequality remains a key challenge. Unemployment, particularly youth unemployment, is a major concern. Global health threats, more frequent and intense natural disasters, spiraling conflict, violent extremism, terrorism and related humanitarian crises and forced displacement of people threaten to reverse much of the development progress made in recent decades.

Many advanced countries run capitalistic economies. But the rich in those societies freely give away much of their wealth to assist their societies in programmes that overlap into the developing countries. For instance, Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffet who at one time occupied the leading position as the worlds richest personalities agreed, alongside and Mark Zuckerberg,s on an idea termed: ‘The Giving Pledge’ that is a commitment by the world’s wealthiest individuals and families to dedicate the majority of their wealth to giving back to the society what they realize from their businesses. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, through a family philanthropy programme devote as much funds to global health, as the World Health Organization. In the case of Warren Buffett, he has planned it that more than 99% of his wealth will go to philanthropy during his lifetime or at death.

Both billionaires, not only committed themselves to this agenda, but have successfully rallied about 158 other billionaires, who have promised to give away at least half of their vast wealth to philanthropic causes. Their ages range from 30s to 90s. The campaign started by Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates in 2010, is to spur philanthropy among the superrich. Their commitment is to give away at least 50% of their wealth in their lifetimes or at death to charity. Buffett and the Bill & Melinda Gates developed the idea believing that a quantified goal would help the wealthy to think through their philanthropic plans. (FORTUNE MAGAZINE; APRIL 19, 2012) Annually, Warren Buffett donates $3.17 Billion (about 1.4 Trillion naira) to Gates Foundation and other Charities, as part of his decade-long plan to give away his massive fortune. Others notable givers are: Hasso Plattner, David Rockefeller, Azim Premji, Richard Branson, Elon Musk, Tim Cook, Sara Blakely, and Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Michael Bloomberg, Mark Zuckerberg, and Africas Mo Ibrahim.

Aged 88 years, and native of Omaha, Nebraska, United States, Warren Buffet, according to FORBES is worth 85.3 billion United States Dollars. He has given out US $30.7 to healthcare, education, AIDS-prevention, and sanitation, among others. He comes after Bill Gates, whose Foundation has released US$35 billion to address challenges in critical sectors likes healthcare, extreme poverty, education, access to information technology. Warren Buffet is an investor, and philanthropist who is the chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway; and has interests in several companies. Buffett is reportedly an extremely thrifty person, who eats the same $3.17-or-less breakfast from McDonald’s every morning; and has lived in the same modest, four-bedroom Omaha house since 1958. On his part, Bill Gates is the richest man in the world and is the co-founder and chairman of Microsoft. His wealth is valued at USD 90 billion (December 2017). He is the largest individual shareholder in Microsoft, owning 6% of the common stock. After stepping down as Microsofts CEO in 2000 he started working fulltime at the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation. Gates co-founded Microsoft in 1975, together with Paul Allen. Bill Gates and Paul Allen became the worlds richest persons when Microsoft became the worlds largest software maker. Bill Gates lives in an estate in Medina, valued at USD 125 million, in the State of Washington, United States. He manages the largest charitable foundation in the world.

There are numerous advantages that are derivable by being charitable. Apart from giving the giver joy, there is usually provision for writing off donations on tax returns in advanced nations. More importantly, giving affords the opportunity for the donor to affect his or her generation positively, and make the society and the world a better place to live in.

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