Eminentoes

You Can Buff It, But You Can’t Make it Shine

Two rich men who like to play give-away in a non-life affirming way.

By 6.28.06

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A fellow comes into the restaurant and orders a steak. When they bring it, he looks askance and says: "It's overdone. Take it back and give me a veal cutlet instead." After he finishes the cutlet, he looks at the bill proffered by the waiter and protests. "Hey, I'm not paying for the cutlet. I exchanged my steak for that." Hmm. "Okay, then pay for the steak." The man is incredulous. "Why should I? I didn't eat the steak."

Life works this way, too. You get to leave your money to your kids because you earned it by trading in your energy and education. But you are enjoined to recall that you received those as a gift. In the course of distributing your vast wealth -- yeah, I'm talkin' 'a you, you rich Republican you -- to those you begat, it befits and becomes and behooves and beseems you to bestow and bequeath some to honor the One who made you be.

Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, who apparently -- stop me if you've heard this one before -- play bridge together... hehehehehehe... Sorry about that; er, where was I? Yes, they play bridge, a game in which they both love to call "No Trumps"... hahahahaha... Oh, good grief, I must collect myself. Trying to make a serious point here with reason and rhyme, but these guys keep rhyming tycoon with buffoon... hohohohoho...

With straight face (I promise to be good from now on), let me explain. Two richest men. Bridge. Play. Respect. Mutual respect. Buffett couldn't help but notice that Gates was saving the world. Where better to park forty billions? Give the fat of the land to the salt of the earth. In the past, his wife used to tuck those bils into her foundation. Yes, the same wife who left him in 1977 (don't try to figure this out at home). But since her passing he has decided that no one is pearlier than Gates.

All this is harmless enough, I suppose. When one has had his fill of his anthropic period, it is time to be philanthropic. And even these bloated left-wing foundations do here and there, despite their best efforts to achieve maximum wrong-headedness, help the occasional real person.

The part that incenses me is that the one cause that is featured prominently on the list of recipients of the Mrs. Buffett Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is Planned Parenthood. Mrs. B goes even beyond that to donate directly to abortion providers. Indeed the Washington Post obituary for Susan T. Buffett in 2004 noted her contributions for "population control and other charities." Just doing her bit ("bit" as in "obituary") for humanity.

How lovely. You are given life and every blessing imaginable. Your hand is full to shower a boon upon mankind. You have the money to heal bodies, to open hearts, to expand minds, to inspire souls. This is no longer the world of hand laundry, outhouses, clotheslines, firewood and blocks of ice for summer that your grandfather handed over. Now life is full of amenity and convenience to free up the creativity of the human spirit. We can write and paint and build and plant and make the world more and more developed for the benefit of more and more people.

So what do you choose? You choose to scoff at life, to shrink humanity, to deny entry to burning souls, to bar the next generation from taking their seat at the banquet table. You are the Silas Marners of the soul, hoarding not just your gold but all the gold of Creation, to be the legacy of the few and the privileged. They don't call it eugenics anymore, fashion dictating otherwise, but all the alternative titles I can craft would be far worse. Phooey.

And if I may, an extra swipe at the Buffetts. Their fortune was notably built on the principle of "buy and hold." What is the basis of the success of that approach? It is the belief in the future, in the notion that things always grow in the long run. Wait out the storms, don't deliver dire diurnal directives, look to the long view and the big picture, because life offers unforeseeable solutions to its problems. Can someone who grew prosperous by clinging to this vision of life turn around and say that there must be less of us because the world is unequal to the task? That's unbearable bull.

Back to the restaurant, where we meet the Jew who orders an entire roasted pig, served with the apple in its mouth. As soon as the waiter presents the dish to the table, a fellow congregant at the local synagogue approaches the table in dismay. "Look," the diner stammers. "I ordered an apple and this is how they bring it." There is a charitable apple in the Buffett dinner, but it's served with a nasty side.

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About the Author

Jay D. Homnick, commentator and humorist, is a frequent contributor to The American Spectator.