Normally, I don’t complain about my condition. As for as Crohn’s cases go, I have a pretty mild one. I’ve never been to the hospital for it, except when I was diagnosed. Never needed medicine via infusion. Never needed surgery (and hopefully never will). Any pain is bearable and the gas, though while a nuisance, has pretty much become part of everyday life. I have to work from home every once in a while because of it, but that’s no big deal. So in my case, things are pretty good.

But you know what really sucks about it? Bathroom trips. Today I took, count ’em, five. Five. Makes it really hard to do anything when you’re in the bathroom for a total of a couple hours a day every now and then.

You know what I’d like someday? To not have to make five bathroom trips within a normal day, and three within an hour and a half of each other.

That’d be really nice.

Warren Buffett
By Mark Hirschey. CC-BY-SA.

For the final entry of Independence Week 2013, I’ve continued the philanthropy theme with Warren Buffett. Along with the Gates’, Buffett is perhaps one of the most prominent philanthropists of this generation. He and the Gates are the originators of The Giving Pledge, a commitment by signatory billionaires to donate much of their wealth between now and their deaths.

Now, far be it from me to say what wealthy people must do with their money; I don’t believe in that. If they want to hoard it all, good for them. If they want to give it all to their kids upon death, then that’s their prerogative. But I cannot help but admire what the 105 signatories (as of this posting) to the pledge are doing. Their donations will help improve health and education in some of the places that need it the most. The beneficiaries of these donations will have a second lease on life and, in the case of education grants, a chance to lead a better life of their own volition.

None of this is new for Buffett, who has held this commitment since 1988, and was one of the first people to do so, ushering a new kind of venture philanthrophy, which uses the principles of venture capitalism to achieve philanthropic goals. He has additionally worked with other organizations, such as the Glide Foundation, that work toward many of the same goals as the Gates Foundation.

Thanks to the donations, many people in many parts of the world will be able to achieve a kind of independence that this week is intended to celebrate.

Bill and Melinda Gates
Photo by Kjetil Ree. CC-BY-SA.

Today, I feature Bill and Melinda Gates. Despite what you may think of Gates’ tenure at Microsoft, even the harshest critics of his business practices will tell you they admire his philanthropy.

Since its founding in 1994, the foundation has donated billions for health research and education, among other goals, and the Gates’ plan to give even more as they get into their elder years, being among a small group of philanthropists who plan to give away most of their wealth by the time of their deaths (more on this tomorrow).

I also admire their plans to continually invest their endowment to increase it over time. I understand this is a somewhat controversial practice, at least in terms of who they’re investing in, but as pointed out above, Bill Gates is a shrewd businessman, so I think the investments should return a much larger endowment than what was initially invested, and in companies more ethical than when the foundation started its investment.

The biggest winners, of course, will be those whom had their health and education improved thanks to the donations.