Yesterday Facebook Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg surprised much of the world when he announced in a public message to his infant daughter, Max, that he and her mother, Dr. Priscilla Chan, would be donating 99% of their Facebook stock to charity within their lifetimes. The current market value of that charitable gift is around $45 billion.
As of today, Zuckerberg ranks fifth on Forbes Magazine's list of the richest Americans. First on that list is Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft. Gates and his wife, Melinda, created the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a charitable endeavor fighting poverty and disease on an international basis. The Gates foundation is currently the largest charitable organization in the world.
Warren Buffett, who heads a stock investment firm called Berkshire Hathaway ranks second on the Forbes list of richest Americans. He has given nearly three billion dollars annually to charities over each of the past several years - much of it to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Other ultra-rich Americans, like the Waltons, the Koch brothers, and Sheldon Adelson seem to be far less eager to share their wealth with the unwashed masses - and when they do donate to causes, it is generally to those which stand to be of benefit to them (the wealthy donors) rather than to individuals in need.
As the gap between the haves and the have-nots increases with alarming speed, it is nice to note that a few of the absolute richest people in the world have social consciences. May little Maxima Chan Zuckerberg grow up in a world where hunger, disease, illiteracy, poverty, pollution, and racial and ethnic hatreds are all disappearing - and may she realize the important role that her parents - and people like her parents - played in righting the worlds' injustices.
Thank you, Mark and Priscilla Zuckerberg, for showing the world that not every billionaire is a bad billionaire!