The cinematically-named Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim says that building solid companies does more to benefit humanity than giving away money, and he's right in principle.

The world's third-richest man, Mexican telecom magnate Carlos Slim, poked gentle fun at the philanthropy of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, and said businessmen can do more good by building solid companies than by "going around like Santa Claus" donating money.

Slim on Monday announced a new $450 million foundation for health research and care _ a minor slice of his estimated $49 billion fortune.

But Slim said he had no interest in competing with Gates and Buffett, who lead him on the Forbes magazine's list of the world's richest and have donated much larger shares of their fortunes. Slim is gaining rapidly on the two heavyweights with a fortune that grew by $19 billion last year _ the largest wealth gain in the past decade tracked by Forbes.

"Our concept is more to accomplish and solve things, rather than giving; that is, not going around like Santa Claus," said Slim, as he cracked jokes, smoked a cigar and outlined business plans at a rare news conferences. "Poverty isn't solved with donations.

Mr. Slim is right, but I believe that there is a place for both charitable giving and not-for-profit investment in technological research and development. I'm far from well-informed about Gates, Buffet, or Slim, but my understanding of the Gates Foundation is that it doesn't just hand out cash, but rather it invests in infrastructure and research that bypass the political causes of poverty, such as tyranny and anarchy.

I'm curious to learn more about how Gates' and Buffet's fortunes are being used, but from what I've read they aren't giving money away "like Santa Claus". While I'm not sure if Slim's jibes are entirely accurate, I agree with his perspective in principle.

(HT: The Pirate.)

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