The Wall Street Journal joins the (very small) chorus of voices willing to break free from the (very large and awfully loud) chorus of hosannas praising Warren Buffett.
In explaining his charitable motivations this week, Mr. Buffett also went out of his way to say that he is "not an enthusiast for dynastic wealth." This is fair enough, and is also one of Mr. Buffett's arguments for so vocally defending federal death tax rates of 50% or more. But we can't help but point out that Mr. Buffett's gift will itself be shielded from Uncle Sam because it is going to a foundation. So in practice he is in favor of death taxes only for those whose estates are too small to hide in foundation tax shelters.
We'd also note that the foundations he is donating to may well become "dynasties" in their own right. In addition to his Gates Foundation gift, Mr. Buffett also said he will give major donations well north of $1 billion each to separate foundations run by his three children and another in the name of his late wife. These gifts, too, will be shielded from taxation and will allow his heirs to wield power and influence long after the 75-year-old has gone to his just reward. With their tax-sheltered assets, modern foundations have no expiration date and have become hugely important players in policy debates, the culture and even politics.
Of course, we totally agree with Warren Buffett that love is the greatest advantage a parent can give a child. But a billion dollar foundation is probably a pretty close second.
Mr. Buffett's Gift [Wall Street Journal]