Oh, I was delighted. I mean, this is the kind of thing that I've been pushing for for some years. In my book, "The Life You Can Save," I ask everyone to think about what they can give, the percentage that they can give. And, of course, billionaires do have more, so they can give a higher percentage than ordinary people.
But I think it's great that they are showing the way, that they're setting a lead, and, you know, doing something that's really ethical of their life. I think that's important.
You said billionaires should give a lot more. What about the average person, though? What amount? Have you come up with the percentage for the average person to give?
I do. I set up a Web site, too, TheLifeYouCanSsave.com where I got a scale, just like a tax scale, so it starts off with 1 percent. And for most Americans, it is just 1 percent.
But as you get wealthier, it jumps to 5 percent and then if you get wealthiest still, 10 percent. And I actually topped out at one-third.
I wasn't particularly thinking of billionaires. So, I think it's great that they're going up to half. And I don't see why they shouldn't really if you're that wealthy. Obviously, you can manage with just half a billion dollars. That's not too tough.
So, listen, do you think for billionaires, is half enough for billionaires? I mean, when you have so much money, even if you take away half of a billionaire's fortune, that's still a lot of money. Is that even enough?
It is a lot of money. But, you know, I think we have to begin with something realistic, as Melinda Gates said, most billionaires are not giving nearly that much yet. And this would be a huge increase. So, I think half is something they can feel comfortable with that's realistic.
And if all of the billionaires on the Forbes 400 list were to give half of their wealth, that's $600 billion. That's going to go to charity and philanthropic causes. And, you know, that's a fantastic amount. I mean, if that were to go to help the world's poor, for example --
-- it could really make a huge difference.
I've got to ask you -- I've got to ask you this because you're talking about the world's poor and helping. But how do you respond to critics who say it is better if billionaires keep their money because in a sense that drives the economy, it can boost the economy not only of this country but the world, rather than just giving it to charity?
Well, you have to think what the charities are doing, right? They're not just handing out money or handing out food. They're investing in development in developing countries. So, that's also driving the economy of those countries.
And often, you can get great returns by investing there and eventually then you bring those economies of developing countries into the global economy, as, of course, has happened with Asian economies like China and Korea and Taiwan over the years. And that helps to make us wealthy, too, because it increases the global economy and gives us a larger pool to trade with to sell our goods to.
So, I think it is the best investment for the benefit of us, as well as the poor, too.
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