Banks for Sharing

By Bill Maher

I give billionaires a lot of trouble on my show, so it’s time to say something nice about them.

More than a 120 of them have signed “The Giving Pledge,” a public commitment to donate over half their wealth to charity. That’s roughly a quarter of all the billionaires in the United States (although there are a handful of billionaires from other countries on the list).

The idea was started by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, and includes many billionaires you’ve heard of – Michael Bloomberg, Mark Zuckerberg, Sheryl Sandberg, Ted Turner, Larry Ellison, Tom Steyer. Notably but unsurprisingly absent: greedy jerks like the Koch brothers, Sheldon Adelson and Donald Trump.

The Giving Pledge list is growing rapidly, and a lot of these billionaires aren’t just giving away half of their wealth, they're donating almost all of it. On the average, Americans give 3.1 percent of their income. Sure, billionaires are taking an increasing share of wealth from average Americans, but at least they’re doing the right thing with it. Isn’t this a silver lining to wealth inequality?

I hate to muddle things, but I have to make clear that rich people across the board are not more generous. In fact, they are less generous. According to The Atlantic, the top 20 percent give an average of 1.3 percent of their income to charity, while the bottom 20 percent give 3.2 percent. But the filthiest of the filthy rich are, apparently. Shouldn’t the Giving Pledge expand to people who make millions?