The Charitable Industrial Complex

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Peter Buffett made waves last summer with a New York Times op-ed that dissed the charitable establishment. He argued that much of the philanthropy from today's titans of capitalism involves trying to fix things – such as extreme inequality - that modern capitalism is making worse. Maybe, he said, it is time to build a new system from the ground up.

It was a case that would have been provocative no matter who made it – but the fact that Peter is Warren Buffett's son made it a bit more deliciously subversive. We reached out right away in hopes that Peter might want to elaborate on his thinking, but no luck. So I was delighted a few months later when he got in touch and said the time was right.

Stirring up philanthropy and capitalism is just a part-time gig for this Emmy-award winning composer, who for three decades has written music for commercials, film and television – working along the way with everyone from Kevin Costner to Akon. Buffett is also the author of the acclaimed book, “Life Is What You Make It,” which has been translated into 15 languages, and which serves as the basis for the innovative concert and conversation tour he now performs for audiences worldwide.

I think you'll find Peter refreshing and surprising. At some level we probably expect a son of one of America's richest men to come off as spoiled or entitled, or otherwise off-putting. But Warren Buffett wasn't "Warren Buffett" when Peter was growing up, and Peter didn't come into a major philanthropic role (thanks to the foundation his father funded) until he was in his late 40s. He's engaging, talented and comfortable in his own skin.

Peter also has a rare perch from which to offer insights and critiques of the moneyed establishment that deserve a wide hearing.



Matt Miller


Laura Dine Million