World’s Richest Man: ‘Charity Doesn’t Solve Anything’
The Mexican billionaire [Carlos Slim], who Forbes still lists as the world’s richest man, said in 2007 that he could do more to help fight poverty by building businesses than by “being a Santa Claus.”
Mr. Slim’s signature also has been noticeably absent from the Gates-Buffett Giving Pledge. At a conference in Syndey last month, Mr. Slim said that charity accomplishes little.
“The only way to fight poverty is with employment,” he said. “Trillions of dollars have been given to charity in the last 50 years, and they don’t solve anything.”
His point seems to be that society would benefit more if the wealthy channeled their creative energies and talents toward building job-creating businesses rather than doling out cash. It is the 21st century billionaire version of the old adage, “give a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach him to fish and he eats for a lifetime.”
In these populist times, some might argue that Mr. Slim is being a selfish billionaire who’s simply justifying his own wealth accumulation. But he raises two good questions–ones I have heard from an increasing number of wealthy entrepreneurs:
Would Bill Gates and Warren Buffett be doing more for society by putting their time and money into new businesses rather than funding philanthropy?
Has philanthropy solved any major social problems in the past 50 years?