Wednesday, February 28, 2001

For your child's sake?

There is only one way to put a great fortune to use: giving while you are alive to causes you think are important.
Gautam Chikermane
Poot kapoot to kyon dhan sanchay/ Poot sapoot to kyon dhan sanchay Why bequeath wealth to an unworthy son/ Why bequeath wealth to a worthy son
-–Sant Kabirdas (1398-1448)
One of the flimsiest and commonest excuses for not parting with the wealth one accumulates in one’s lifetime is that the wealth is being created for one’s children–their education, their security, their financial freedom. One has chosen to be an entrepreneur, struggled and created wealth against all odds so that one’s children can go ahead and become poets, if they should be so inclined. There should be nothing they want and not be able to get simply for lack of money. After all, society didn’t help me when I was in need; so, what moral grounds does the same community, government, nation have to expect this philanthropy from me, these people ask.
Ironically, the answer is: for the very same children on whose tiny shoulders they put the gun and shoot off this excuse. In June 1889, millionaire businessman Andrew Carnegie–whose millions could finance the US economy for much more than a month, unlike Bill Gates’ billions, which may be able to finance it for two days–wrote a beautiful article that extolled the rational virtues of charity and broke all the myths associated with the subject. His aim was to explore the options one had in respect of what to do with one’s wealth after one passes on. According to him, there were three modes in which surplus wealth can be disposed of: "It can be left to the families of the decedents; or it can be bequeathed for public purposes; or, finally, it can be administered during their lives by its possessors."
Opinion in Outlook Money

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