The issue of taxes is one. From the NY Post:
No sooner had Warren Buffett made the single largest philanthropic donation in history than he was talking up the death tax.
After signing over $30.7 billion to the Gates Foundation - and thus depriving the government of upward of $17 billion, depending on when he ultimately expires - Buffett told reporters, "I would hate to see the estate tax gutted. It's a very equitable tax."
It's understandable that Buffett believes the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will do a better job spending his fortune than the U.S. Congress. For the impoverished, disease-stricken of Africa, the Gates Foundation is a far more reasonable source of hope than, say, the United Nations.
Less understandable is Buffett's opinion of the death tax, which he describes as an equalizer for newborns.
"It's keeping with the idea of equality of opportunity in this country - not giving incredible head starts to certain people who were very selective about the womb from which they emerged," he said Monday.
In fact, some Americans work their whole lives just for the satisfaction of knowing they're leaving their children with greater comfort than they themselves had.
Their children, that is, are their favor- ite charity - and there's nothing wrong with that.
Actually, it seems that even Buffett feels this way. Before signing over $30 billion in Berkshire Hathaway stock to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, he made $1 billion pledges to foundations run by his children, Susie, Howard and Peter.
"Tax documents show that in 2004, Peter Buffett and his wife Jennifer each took a $40,000-a-year salary for what they reported was 30 hours a week each of work on the foundation," The New York Sun reported Monday.
And Buffett directed his benefactors to ensure that the gifts "must continue to satisfy legal requirements qualifying my gifts as charitable and not subject to gift or other taxes."
In this way, the Buffett children are getting tax-free cash infusions to their respective foundations. (Presumably, the gifts were made irrespective of the "womb from which they emerged.")
No one questions that, once he's gone, Buffett will be remembered as an exemplary humanitarian.
But for those not rich enough to start foundations, what legacy can they leave?
Buffett thinks Uncle Sam is entitled to posthumously snatch 55 percent of their wealth.
What's "equal" about that?