It’s hard not to get the feeling that being the little rich kid ‘who has everything’, could be a curse.
Facebook billionaire Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Dr Priscilla Chan have just given birth to their first baby, a girl called Max (Maxima), and have announced they are going to give away 99% of their Facebook shares in their lifetime, currently estimated to come in at a cool $45billion. Like Bill and Melinda Gates of Microsoft, they are setting up their own charity, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, where funds will be directed by the foundation to advance “human potential” and promote equality.
Zuckerberg wrote a letter (on Facebook, not paper) to his new baby to explain his decision to give away his fortune:
Your mother and I don’t yet have the words to describe the hope you give us for the future. Your new life is full of promise, and we hope you will be happy and healthy so you can explore it fully. You’ve already given us a reason to reflect on the world we hope you live in.
Like all parents, we want you to grow up in a world better than ours today.
While headlines often focus on what’s wrong, in many ways the world is getting better. Health is improving. Poverty is shrinking. Knowledge is growing. People are connecting. Technological progress in every field means your life should be dramatically better than ours today.
We will do our part to make this happen, not only because we love you, but also because we have a moral responsibility to all children in the next generation.
We believe all lives have equal value, and that includes the many more people who will live in future generations than live today. Our society has an obligation to invest now to improve the lives of all those coming into this world, not just those already here.
Of course Max is still going to be more than comfortable in her lifetime. Of course Max will have an extremely privileged life, but Zuckerberg’s decision to give away what he could give to his daughter means he must have thought about both the morality of extremes of wealth and the impact that wealth can have on his offspring.