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Jon M. Huntsman Sr.: Rich need to give more

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 18 2011 12:09 a.m. MDT

Jon Huntsman Sr., seen here outside the Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake City, suggests that wealthy Americans should donate 80 percent of their means to charity.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — If only the rich would share.

That's Jon M. Huntsman Sr.'s solution to the country's economic woes.

He sympathizes with the protestors in New York City who have resolved to "Occupy Wall Street" to draw attention to how corporate greed is squeezing America's middle class, he told the New York Times. But while he agrees the political system is broken and ethics have gone belly up, he believes increased generosity among the nation's wealthiest could "go a long way toward fixings things."

The way Huntsman sees it, the rich should not have to be compelled to give through taxation, as some have suggested. Even Warren E. Buffet's Giving Pledge, which challenges America's richest to give away 50 percent of their wealth, is not generous enough.

"I suggested 80 percent," said the 74-year-old chemicals mogul, who is father to U.S. presidential candidate Jon M. Huntsman, Jr. "A tremendous number of wealthy people haven't given much of anything."

Unlike many billionaire philanthropists, Huntsman has focused the bulk of his giving in the United States. The four-time cancer survivor has poured his money into developing Salt Lake City's Huntsman Cancer Institute, which is celebrating a major expansion this month.

"We'll just keep opening centers until we're the Mayo Clinic of cancer," he said.

Of more than 1,200 living billionaires in the world, Huntsman is one of just 19 who have donated at least $1 billion, according to Forbes Magazine. Last year, he donated so much to the Huntsman Cancer Foundation that he got kicked off the Forbes 400 list. Before he dies, he plans to give away all of it.

His peers need to step it up, Huntsman said.

"It becomes a game to see how much you can accumulate," he said. "Why should someone who has $5 billion only give away $2.5 billion? They can't take it with them."

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