By Michelle Seiler-Tucker, Special for USDR
American businessman Jon Huntsman, Sr., is the founder and chairman of Huntsman Corporation, which led him to become a billionaire. At the age of 77, he has given away approximately 80% of his fortune, and plans to give the other 20% away before he dies. While other people prefer to place their riches in banks or investments, Huntsman says he likes to give his away. Why? Well, Jon Huntsman took the Giving Pledge, which is a campaign encouraging the world’s wealthiest people (specifically billionaires or would be billionaires if not for their philanthropy) to give most of their money away to charitable causes.
At the age of 77, Huntsman has given away about $1.2 billion. Donations to his cancer foundation knocked him off The Forbes 400 list last year. But a run-up in his company stock should put his net worth near $1 billion again this year. After losing his mother and to cancer, as well as suffering from the disease 4 separate times himself, the majority of this money has gone to the Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah, the largest in the world for combined children and adult genetic cancer research. He donates about $120 million each year. Mr. Huntsman has become a leading advocate for private research, proclaiming that public funding is nowhere near as effective as private research, because private research holds scientists accountable. His efforts are much needed; the most recent study from the New England Health Journal showed that between 2007 and 2012, private investments in medical research fell by $12.9 billion in the U.S. In addition to that, there have been multiple budget cuts from within the federal government on medical research (about $1.55 billion).
Unlike government bureaucracy, Huntsman says that his researchers are not in a situation to be swept under the rug or sidelined by shortages in funding. Their efforts matter, and so Huntsman makes sure that any specific studies or experiments begun in his research facilities are supported until completion. The same cannot be said about public funding. Time and time again has showed that bureaucratic approaches and public funding to a society’s economic wellbeing are not nearly as lucrative or effective as private endorsements are. The government needs to be run like a business. This is the solution to fixing multiple conflicts our nation is facing.
I say this because I am a successful business woman, who first got her start in business when starting my own franchise development company and sold franchises. After selling franchises for a few years, I realized my philosophies were very different from the franchisor I was representing. I was selling tremendous services, training, and support systems that my leader (franchisor) was falling dramatically short of, in servicing their franchisees. I realized that I was not solving problems, because the franchisor was causing more problems by not meeting my clients’ needs and not fulfilling their commitments. I see this same problem with how our government operates. No one would argue that the US Federal Government has a bad rap for over promising and under delivering. Companies who operate on false promises and bad service do not survive. Period. This puts the reality of our nation in perspective. It’s as simple as that. The US needs a new business plan. There are lots of politics that go into the policies our Federal Government funds, and ultimately, the political policies that result are not in the public’s best interest. Need I remind you about MIT economics professor, and architect of Obamacare, Jonathan Gruber; where old videos of him speaking in detail about the Affordable Care Act recently set off a political firestorm? These speeches offered some much needed insight into how policy is impacted by politics; and the ultimate motive behind the structure and plans of the Affordable Care Act. Despite Gruber calling American voters “stupid,” I do not think this true. The American people are not stupid; the American people have been ignorant. It is time we educate ourselves, so that we may take the necessary steps towards socio-economical self-empowerment and to then be capable of taking responsibility for this nation’s present state and potential future.
I chose to not represent franchisors, because I could not look myself in the mirror and sell their products and services in good faith, because they were neither servicing nor were they listening to constructive feedback on how to more carefully and effectively operate for the sake of the franchisees’ needs. I think a shift in the American people and their governmental power paradigm is not only essential–but crucial for our sustainability–as well as for the sake of us remaining a substantial nation respectable by world standards.
I now specialize in buying and selling private businesses. I am a firm believer that small business owners are the skeletal structure of the US economy. Therefore, my advice is to go your own way by building something you believe in. Do it with passion and find yourself financially independent. Create your own economy, so you can support and fund the things you believe in. Ultimately, my advice is to get rich now and save the world after. It is the private sector, not the public sectors that will change the world. However, I pray that after you are able to empower yourself that you do the world justice as a great leader, who then works to empower others. That is the key to creating a more sustainable economy; but more importantly it is the crucial factor which would help make the world a better place to live. Isn’t that what life is all about?