America's 400 Richest Join Forces to Eradicate Poverty, Hunger

New York, November 22, 2005 -- In a stunning development that will improve and save the lives of billions, and perhaps even change the course of history, the 400 wealthiest people in the United States have signed an agreement to each contribute half their assets to a newly formed global fund to fight poverty, hunger and disease.

America's 400 richest, who possess a combined net worth of $1.13 trillion, plan to form a foundation, the 400 Fund, that will be endowed at its creation with assets of nearly $600 billion, making it at least 40 times larger than any private foundation on the planet. The fund's programs will be administered internationally with the help of a specially-created branch of the United Nations, the total annual budget of which is dwarfed by that of the 400 Fund.

"I think we all just decided it was high time to give something back," said Warren Buffett, who with assets of $40 billion ranks #2 on the list of America's richest, after mainstay Bill Gates. "I mean, many of us – possibly most – already fund a wide range of charitable enterprises. But we thought it was time for a bolder statement, one that could transform society more or less overnight. Additionally, by pooling our resources and creating the 400 Fund, we are spared the task of day-to-day administration. After all, we all have more money to make."

The 400 Fund is expected to generate revenue through interest and returns on its investments allowing for annual disbursements in excess of $50 billion. The fund's founders also anticipate it to grow as others jump on the bandwagon, perhaps to include the world's 1000 richest, which would increase the fund's endowment by at least another $300 billion. Many of the funds are expected to be distributed in the form of matching grants, as a means to encourage and complement hard-to-sell efforts at the national and international level – in particular, the United Nations' Millennium Development goals.

The Human Development Report 2005, for example, asserts that one billion people worldwide lack access to clean water, and another 2.6 billion have no clean or reliable sanitation. Solving those problems would cost an estimated $7 billion per year over 10 years.

"So, since the world's governments can't seem to get off their behinds on this issue," said Michael Dell, who weighs in as the fourth wealthiest man in America with about $18 billion in personal assets, "our group will pony up $3.5 billion a year and the wealthier governments of the world can pony up the other half. $3.5 billion is less than the United States spends on underarm deodorant. I think they can manage it."

Over 4,000 lives each day, equating to 1,460,000 lives each year, would be saved worldwide simply by achieving that single goal.

Hunger is another key issue the 400 Fund wishes to address:

"I can't remember the last time I, or anyone I knew, went to bed hungry, unless it was at a health spa," said Google's Larry Page, ranked #16 with $11 billion in assets. "Why should that be the case for a billion people every day, simply because their country's corrupt, or their infrastructure has been destroyed by war, or their crops have been ravaged by drought or flooding?"

According to the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals Report, over 800 million people do not get enough nutrition to meet their daily needs. With matching funds from United Nations member countries, the 400 Fund is expected to achieve complete eradication of world hunger within five years.

"I'm looking forward to that," said the 125th ranked Craig McCaw.

While some observers view the act of donating a full fifty percent of personal assets as shocking, perhaps even subversive, most of the donors were more pragmatic.

"After all, as a private person, what can you conceivably do with a billion dollars that you can't do with five hundred million?" said a cheerful Richard Manoogian, who with assets of $1 billion shares a 29-way tie for 346th place. "Besides, once you have the first hundred million, the rest kind of just rolls in all by itself."

By Ion Zwitter, Avant News Editor

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