Sir, I am normally an admirer of the columns of Edward Luce, but “ What Zuckerberg could learn from Buffett” (Comment, December 4) made my blood boil. How can it possibly be justified to criticise Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan’s decision to give away 99 per cent of their wealth? Is it conceivable that Mr Luce confuses the fact that the Chan-Zuckerbergs are one percenters with the fact that these one percenters are giving away all but 1 per cent of their fortune?
Mr Luce acknowledges the unprecedented act of generosity but accuses the Chan-Zuckerbergs of ignoring the role of public investment. Yet their letter to their daughter is full of references to what society must do. He then lambasts Mr Zuckerberg and Facebook for not paying enough taxes. This is conceivably true, but is a strange charge sheet against a man who is giving away 99 per cent of his wealth.
The Chan-Zuckerbergs are then held in contempt because they will put the assets into a limited liability entity. Mr. Luce admits that this brings a desirable ability to invest in for-profit ventures of public interest; however, he laments that the tax bill will be kept low as a consequence. But why is this bad when philanthropy is involved? He then makes the ludicrous suggestion that the Chan-Zuckerbergs should pay a third, or $15bn, voluntarily to the taxman, the logical implication being that government would be better at capital allocation for charitable purposes than Mr Zuckerberg. Given that Mr Zuckerberg has created a $45bn dollar fortune in 10 years, this is laughable. Bill Gates has shown how grateful we should be for entrepreneurs applying their skills to societal problems. Let us have high hopes for Mr Zuckerberg! Liberals can be fantastic in their ability to chastise their standard-bearers. So they criticise Barack Obama, one of the greatest presidents; they criticise Angela Merkel, a true humanitarian; and now they criticise a couple giving away $45bn dollars! Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg, if it is any consolation, you are in great company!
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