I gave a talk Wednesday night in White Plains, NY about my forthcoming book, Even Buffett Isn't Perfect. I was quite pleased with the response, so I am posting a short excerpt here. The book is available for pre-order at a significant discount at Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com, as well as a number of other book sellers.
Buffett firmly believes the rich should pay more tax. So why would he choose to give so much of his money to these various foundations rather than allow the government to take a huge chunk from his estate after his death? The only reasonable explanation is that Buffett is convinced that these foundations will spend his money much more wisely than the government would.
Many of the megarich, including Buffett, favor the estate tax. Yet they continue to take advantage of the loophole in the law that allows them to avoid the tax by giving their money away before they die. What explains this paradox? Perhaps the answer lies somewhere between guilt and altruism. They may feel guilty about having so much money, yet they don't trust the government to spend it wisely. But as conservatives point out, we don't need the estate tax to get the same result. Those who feel guilty are free to give their money to whomever they want--even the government. But they should not force the same on others.