Donald Trump is the meanest billionaire in creation and it is now official says New York Times columnist Nick Kristoff in his recent column.
Kristoff names CNN founder Ted Turner as the most generous because of his $1 billion gift to the United Nations 15 years ago but he’s wrong there.
All available evidence is that it is Irish American Chuck Feeney who began the ‘Giving While Living’ trend now embraced by Bill Gates and Warren Buffet among others.
Kristoff says Turner was the inspiration for giving while living but it was Feeney, a man I have known well for over 25 years now because of his involvement in Ireland, who led the way.
As Forbes magazine recently noted “Chuck Feeney is the James Bond of philanthropy. Over the last 30 years he’s crisscrossed the globe conducting a clandestine operation to give away a $7.5 billion fortune ....His foundation, the Atlantic Philanthropies, has funneled $6.2 billion into education, science, health care, aging and civil rights in the U.S., Australia, Vietnam, Bermuda, South Africa and Ireland.
"Few living people have given away more, and no one at his wealth level has ever given their fortune away so completely during their lifetime. The remaining $1.3 billion will be spent by 2016, and the foundation will be shuttered in 2020. While the business world’s titans obsess over piling up as many riches as possible, Feeney is working double time to die broke.”
Meanwhile an investigation by The Smoking Gun website revealed Donald Trump as the meanest of all the billionaires.
He says he is worth $7 billion and he has given away all of $3.7 million in that time the Smoking Gun folks found.
“From 1990 through 2009, Trump has personally donated a total of just $3.7 million to his foundation, which was incorporated in 1987. In fact, the billionaire is not even the largest contributor to his own charitable organization.”
He has given away less about $200,000 a year during that time.
Putting it in context Michael Bloomberg gave away $235 million last year alone. Chuck Feeney is giving that much away before breakfast -- every day, every year.
I remember asking Feeney about Trump and receiving a highly uncomplimentary answer. Seems he had reached out to him once on a non-profit housing venture in one off New York’s toughest neighborhoods but the Donald was not interested,
Of course not.
Jim Dwyer of The New York Times wrote memorably that "Chuck Feeney was what Donald Trump would be if he led his life backward."
As we face a new year the two men represent different visions of the American dream.
One is a chest thumping, look at me Scrooge, the other, embodies the incredibly generous philanthropic soul of this country that is the envy of every other democracy.
I have no doubt whose side we should all come down on.