tv 60 Minutes CBS January 24, 2016 7:00pm-8:01pm EST
next year. evan: devin, i really appreciate you stopping by. thanks. james: there's no question that the new england patriots have been the dynasty in an era designed for parity in the nfl. and coming up next on cbs, a special edition of "60 minutes" about people who are making a difference, followed by another special edition of "60 minutes," then "madam secretary" and" ncis." for boomer esiason, bart scott, coach cowher and tony gonzalez, i'm james brown. we'll see you at super bowl 350 two weeks from today. to reachn so our chefs have more than a little time on their hands. hey what's that? a model of our kitchen. there's bud, stan, our roast beef. there is me and you. wow.
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( cheers and applause ) >> pelley: there's been a lot of debate about obamacare and whether it's possible for the government to cover every american. 11 million have signed up for it so far, but we found many may never get on board. >> come on in out of the rain. hello, mr. hank. how are you doing? >> pelley: for a fortunate few, there is the health wagon. >> can you breathe for me? >> pelley: who are these people who come into the van? >> they are people that are in desperate need. they have no insurance and they usually wait, we say, "until they're train wrecks." >> rose: billionaires don't usually like to talk about their wealth, but this group has. they and others like them have all pledged to give at least half of their incredible fortunes away to charity-- a half a trillion dollars, so far. >> government has shown, you
know, over the past couple of decades that it can no longer solve the great problems of the day. now, these philanthropists who have incredible wealth, and also the name and the influence, are uniquely qualified right now to solve the huge problems. >> this portion of 60 minutes presents is sponsored by the lincoln motor company and the 2016 lincoln mkc. that's a big bull. i think that's old cyrus. 1800 pounds of do whatever the heck i want. take the long way, huh? thank you cyrus. lease a 2016 lincoln mkc for $289 a month only at your lincoln dealer.
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microsoft cloud changes our world dramatically. it wasn't too long ago it would take two weeks to sequence and analyze a genome. now, we can do a hundred per day. with the microsoft cloud we don't have to build server rooms. we have instant scale. the microsoft cloud is helping us to re-build and re-interpret our business. this cloud helps transform business. this is the microsoft cloud. >> whitaker: good evening. i'm bill whitaker. welcome to "60 minutes presents." tonight, a look at americans from all walks of life "making a
difference:" hometown volunteers helping sick children's dreams come true; health workers bringing care to forgotten pockets of rural poverty; billionaires who share their wealth. we begin with make-a-wish. if you could be anything, go anywhere, or meet anyone, what would you wish for? the make-a-wish foundation has been asking seriously ill children that question for 35- years. make-a-wish became famous by making dying children's final wishes come true. a child doesn't have to be terminally ill anymore to get a wish. last year, the organization granted almost 15,000 wishes. they cover a broad range-- some children get to meet famous athletes; one had much of san francisco pretend he was batman for a day. another chose to jump from an airplane. we wanted to find out what leads to these wondrous moments. make-a-wish is a growing
organization that spent more than 200 million donated dollars on wishes in 2014. it's headquartered in phoenix, has more than 60 local chapters across the country, and almost 40 more around the world. to see how wishes become reality, we spent time with some of its most dedicated volunteers in one of its most active chapters, in the northeast corner of arkansas. as we reported back in october, we discovered a place where, despite persistent poverty, we found inspiring generosity. >> you're fine. appreciate you so much. >> whitaker: they begin at dawn. one day a year, hundreds of volunteers fan out across northeast arkansas to raise money-- at street corners... >> good morning. thank you all. >> whitaker: ...in schools. >> $5,000... >> whitaker: their goal? >> thank you so much. >> whitaker: to get enough money
on this one day to grant every wish for the area's sickest children. volunteers christie matthews and danna johnson have run this fundraiser every year since 1999. >> christie matthews: i mean, it literally just exploded. every year, we would add another town. >> whitaker: but this is small town america. >> matthews: they're very small towns-- 600, 700 people. a handful of change at a time. >> whitaker: as this day's donation deadline approaches, groups of volunteers race to the local radio station to announce their town's total down to the penny. >> give me a number. >> $8,468.62! ( cheers and applause ) >> $25,301! ( cheers and applause ) >> $12,054.55! ( cheers and applause ) >> golly! >> the big finish is just moments away. stand by! >> whitaker: the total tally from northeast arkansas is the big story on the 7:00 news.
>> what do we have here? $323,000! ( cheers and applause ) >> whitaker: that's $323,000-- enough to grant more than 30 wishes donated from places with little to spare. in harrisburg, 40% live in poverty, but this town of 2,000 still contributed $25,000. the wishes were going just to children who were dying. and that's no longer the case? >> matthews: we talk about it not being a last wish, but we create lasting wishes and memories that these families can take on forever. hi, kaden! >> whitaker: kaden erickson is fighting a deadly type of leukemia. at his interview as a potential recipient, he thought his wish was a long shot. >> kaden erickson: my number one wish choice is to go to australia. >> whitaker: folks here make granting the wish a big surprise. months after his interview,
kaden thought he was getting this plaque just for being a make-a-wish volunteer. >> erickson: "make-a-wish, october 11, 2014. kaden erickson, your wish has..." ( applause ) "your wish has been granted!" >> hey, kaden, you're going to australia. ( cheers and applause ) >> whitaker: his mother jeanne. >> jeanne erickson: he was just shaking the plaque. and his little legs were just doing a little happy dance in the chair. and it was... it was something pretty special. >> whitaker: you must have been surprised? >> kaden erickson: i was the most surprised i've ever been in my life. >> kendra street: i'm so excited for you, you know it? >> whitaker: kendra street choreographed kaden's surprise.
when not playing fairy godmother, she's teaching at marmaduke elementary school. everyone at the school chipped in to pay for kaden's wish; many turned out to share the revelation. >> kaden erickson: i get to go to australia! i get to go to australia! >> street: he was excited. he was grateful. and he knew what it meant for him and his family. >> kaden erickson: thank you, everybody. >> whitaker: kaden had endured two excruciating bone marrow transplants. when he, his parents, and four siblings hit the beach in australia, they hoped he'd beaten the cancer. the highlight of his trip? >> kaden erickson: got to hold a koala. >> whitaker: did he, like, put his arms around you? >> kaden erickson: he... it was like a hug. it was about as heavy as a baby. and it would put the claws here and the claws here, and so it was like you were getting hugged by a koala. you kind of get attached to the koalas.
>> whitaker: did it make you forget for a while that you were sick? >> kaden erickson: yes. it made me feel a little bit normal, more normal than i've been for a while. >> whitaker: feeling normal didn't last long. shortly after returning home, kaden learned his cancer had returned for the third time. as we settled in for our interview, his mom jeanne adjusted the medication he needs. it's pumped into his body next to his heart. you're in quite a struggle with this disease. >> kaden erickson: there are some bad things in my body that are kind of stubborn. >> whitaker: i think you're kind of stubborn yourself. >> kaden erickson: thank you... i think. >> whitaker: kaden is so stubborn that, after deliberating for a week, he
decided to undergo a third agonizing bone marrow transplant. the previous two were so difficult, his parents didn't want to force him to go through it again. how did you make that decision? >> kaden erickson: would i rather just die or would i have a chance of living? it was a tough decision to make. >> whitaker: because the therapy makes you feel bad? >> kaden erickson: it can make me feel bad. it can hurt me. it could do more harm than help, so i'm just hoping this time it will get rid of it for good. >> whitaker: kaden's wish- granter, kendra street, was devastated when she learned his cancer had come back. >> street: you have an attachment with your kids, and kaden's one that i've really attached to. and i've gotten to keep in touch with him, and so, seeing him
have to go through that again, it's... it's just painful. he's just a really amazing kid. >> let's give kendra a round of applause. ( cheers and applause ) >> whitaker: you see, kendra had survived her own fight with cancer. back when she was in high school, she had her wish granted. >> make-a-wish foundation is sending you to the atlanta braves. ( applause ) >> whitaker: getting to meet the atlanta braves was thrilling, she says, but... >> street: not to underestimate what my wish was for me, but if i had to sacrifice having my wish to be able to give it to someone else, i would definitely be willing to give it to someone else. >> whitaker: being the granter of the wish is the better end of the deal. >> street: absolutely. you get to give that joy. you get to pass it on to someone else. >> whitaker: the same chapter passed it on to gavin grubbs. he suffers from debilitating muscular dystrophy, and his wish
was to meet race car champion joey logano. the day we met them outside charlotte, joey took gavin for a spin. they met six years ago, and have become so close, they call or text each other every week. >> joey logano: can you see anymore? >> gavin grubbs: i can't see. >> whitaker: gavin was a groomsman at joey's wedding. it all began back when gavin was eight. >> make-a-wish is sending you to the daytona 500! ( cheers and applause ) >> whitaker: at a school assembly, gavin learned he'd get his wish to go to daytona and meet his hero. then, it got better. logano had flown to arkansas to be part of gavin's surprise. ( cheers and applause ) gavin may have a serious disease, but, as you'll see, he
doesn't take himself too seriously. so, gavin, tell me, you are fighting a rare form of muscular dystrophy. >> grubbs: yes, sir. >> whitaker: how does it affect you? >> grubbs: main thing is i don't have the strength of a normal kid my age. obviously, i mean, i'm in a wheelchair, but it's not all sad because, i mean, you're... when you got a disability, people give you free stuff. ( laughs ) people let you do cool things. i'm not saying i take advantage of it, but yeah, i take advantage of it. ( laughter ) and sometimes i feel a little bad for taking advantage of it, but, you know, it's worth it, hanging out with this idiot. ( laughs ) >> it's okay, no pressure. >> whitaker: gavin gives back, too. he helps raise money for new wish kids every year. >> grubbs: it feels good to help other kids. >> logano: that's to me is maturity beyond your years. you take advantage of the stuff that comes your way, as you should.
but you also, you know, you give back. >> whitaker: make-a-wish began back in 1980. seven-year-old chris greicius, dying from leukemia, told his parents he wanted to be a police officer. arizona police made him an officer for a day. the power of his wish launched a movement. are there wishes you can't grant? >> matthews: the one wish that's the hardest to say, "i can't do" is, "can you make me well?" that's a tough one. >> whitaker: what does that do to you? >> johnson: makes you cry. >> matthews: breaks your heart. >> street: thank you so much. thank you. >> whitaker: years before she became a volunteer, getting well had been kendra street's first wish. at the time, she thought her cancer was fatal. >> matthews: yes. >> johnson: she was one of those that her first wish was to "make me well, so i want to live long enough for my mom to see me graduate high school." she was a senior that year. >> matthews: they remind you
that the little things that we think as adults are so traumatic are so small. i mean, when you think about what these kids are going through-- they may not see their next birthday. >> whitaker: kendra saw her next birthday, and since then, 13 more. her cancer remains in remission. at marmaduke, where she teaches, the whole school takes part in make-a-wish. >> street: they just understand the power of a wish. it's just once they saw the first wish granted here, our kids wanted to help give that to someone else. and we're a tiny, tiny school that's raised... last year, we raised $15,000. that's incredible. it plays a huge part of who our kids grow up to be. >> kaden erickson: there's a crocodile in there! >> whitaker: i don't want to overstate this in any way, but did the trip to australia bolster kaden's will to live?
>> jeanne erickson: having australia with him, having those memories, talking about that, it kind of gives him fuel to fight. >> kaden erickson: sometimes when i'm sad, i can think of all the happy things i did in australia, and how amazing it was. >> whitaker: you're not going to let this cancer win. >> kaden erickson: thank you. >> whitaker: you saw how courageous kaden was, but unfortunately, this story has a very sad ending. the cancer was relentless. this past september, kaden died. >> for more about kaden's family go to 60minutesovertime.com. to get where i am. and i didn't get here alone. there were people who listened along the way.
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>> whitaker: more than 11 million people have signed up for obamacare. but many others have been left out. millions of americans can't afford the health insurance exchanges. for the sake of those people, obamacare told the states to expand medicaid, the government insurance for the very poor. but 20 states declined. so, in those states, more than three million people are falling into a gap-- they make too much to qualify as "destitute" for medicaid, but not enough to buy insurance.
as scott pelley first reported in april 2014, we met some of these people when we tagged along in a busted rv called the "health wagon," medical mercy for those left out of obamacare. >> pelley: the tight folds of the cumberland mountains mark the point of western virginia that splits kentucky and tennessee-- the very center of appalachia, a land rich in soft coal and hard times. around wise county, folks are welcomed by storefronts to remember what life was like before unemployment hit 9%. >> teresa gardner: the roads are narrow and windy curves, so it's not easy to drive the bus. >> pelley: this is teresa gardner's territory. she can't be more than 5",4', but she muscles the bus through the hollers, deaf to the complaints of a 13-year-old
winnebago that's left its best miles behind it. >> gardner: having problems seeing here. >> pelley: you really can't see. the wipers are nearly shot and the defroster's out cold. there you go, you can see a little better now. ( laughs ) i understand there's a hole in the floorboard here somewhere? >> gardner: yes, it's right over there, so don't get in that area. ( laughs ) >> pelley: the old truck may be a ruin, but like most rvs, it's pretty good at discovering america. gardner and her partner, paula meade, are nurse practitioners aboard the health wagon, a charity that puts free healthcare on the road. >> how many patients do we have on the schedule today? >> he was going to see what he can free up for us. >> pelley: the health wagon pulls up in parking lots across six counties in southwestern virginia. >> y'all come on in out of the rain. >> pelley: it's not long before the waiting room is packed... >> hello, mr. hank, how are you doing? >> pelley: ...and two exam rooms are full. with advanced degrees in nursing, gardner and meade are allowed to diagnose illnesses,
write prescriptions, order tests and x-rays. >> stick your tongue out, "ah." >> pelley: on average, there are 20 patients a day-- that's recently up by 70%. the health wagon is a small operation that started back in 1980. it runs mostly on federal grants, and corporate and private donations. >> blood pressure a bit high before? >> just when i get aggravated. >> pelley: who are these people who come into the van? >> paula meade: they are people that are in desperate need. they have no insurance, and they usually wait, we say, "until they are train wrecks." their blood pressures come in emergency levels. we have blood sugars come in 500, 600s because they can't afford their insulin. >> pelley: but why do they not see a doctor or a nurse before they become, as you call it, "train wrecks"? >> meade: because they don't have any money. they don't have money to pay for labs. they don't have money to go to an e.r. and these are very proud people. they... you know, you go to the e.r., you get a $3,500 bill. and then what do you do?
you're given a prescription, you can't fill it. that's why they're train wrecks. they have nowhere else to go. >> pelley: glenda moore had nowhere to go but the e.r. when the pain in her leg became unbearable. her job at mcdonald's making biscuits didn't include insurance that she could afford. >> glenda moore: the only doctor that would see me, you had to have $114 up-front just to be seen. >> pelley: what does $114 mean to your monthly budget? >> moore: oh, my gosh. that's half of my weekly pay. i make $7.80 an hour. my paycheck was about... after taxes, about $475 every two weeks. >> pelley: the pain was from a blood clot. she needed lovenox, a clot buster that costs about $500 for a full treatment. >> meade: was she on lovenox when she was discharged from the hospital? >> pelley: paula meade got the call from the e.r., which didn't want to bear the cost. the health wagon had the drug for free, and there was no
charge for some stern medical advice. >> meade: you are going to die if you don't quit smoking, and it could be within a week. you need to stop now, okay?! >> pelley: she took the advice to stop smoking and took lovenox, but one day she felt so bad, she went back to the e.r. >> moore: and they did a ct scan and an x-ray, and found the blood clot had went to my lung. but they also saw another mass on my lung, and then transported me to a bigger hospital. they found the lesions in my brain, so i was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer and brain cancer. >> pelley: what are the doctors telling you? >> moore: i start my treatment on monday, the brain radiation, and he seemed very... i mean, he seemed optimistic. >> pelley: are you hopeful? >> moore: i am. i have been. i don't know, i just feel very hopeful. >> pelley: hope, especially when the odds are long, has always
been essential to survival in appalachia. the recovery from the great recession hasn't arrived. in coal these days, they just take the top of the mountain and you don't need many men for that. around here, about 1,000 were laid off in the last two years. 12% of the folks don't have enough to eat. and we met them waiting for their number at zion family ministries church, where a charity called feeding america was handing out just enough to get through a week, if you stretch. 1,654 lined up, a parking lot of possibilities for gardner, meade, and the health wagon. they've known these people and each other most of their lives. you've been together since eighth grade? >> meade: eighth grade, yes. >> pelley: why do you do this work? >> meade: because somebody has to. you know, there's people here, you know... we always... we had dreams. we wanted to move away from here. we all... you know, we did. and then, we come back and we saw the need.
and actually, there's a vulnerable population here that's different from the rest of america. i mean, there are people... you can replicate this, but we're kind of forgotten. there's no one here to take care of them but us. >> pelley: these patients would be taken care of in the 30 states that expanded medicaid under obamacare. the federal government pays the extra cost to the states for three years. but virginia and the others that opted out fear that the cost in the future could bankrupt them. so the health wagon patients we met have fallen through this unintended gap. >> do you have insurance? >> no, ma'am. >> pelley: have any of you tried to sign up for the president's health insurance plan? >> no... >> pelley: why not? >> brittany phipps: i can't afford it. >> sissy cantrell: i can't, either. >> pelley: sissy cantrell was laid off from a head start center. she's been suffering from migraines and seizures. >> cantrell: i cry for no reason at all, okay. >> have you been seeing a counselor? >> cantrell: no. >> okay. >> pelley: she came away from the health wagon with
medication. brittany phipps works more than 50 hours a week, but that's two part-time jobs, so there's no insurance for her diabetes. so you're getting your insulin through the health wagon? >> phipps: i am now, yeah. >> pelley: and if that wasn't available, where would you get the insulin? >> phipps: i don't know. >> pelley: walter laney's diabetes blinded him in one eye and threatens the other. the health wagon stabilized him and set him up with a specialist. >> hey, walter, this is dr. isaacs. how's it going? >> walter laney: it's going pretty good. >> how have you're sugars been? >> laney: okay. they got my blood sugars back under control. before this year, i was in the hospital three, four times, and this year, i ain't been in none since i've been seeing them. if it hadn't a been for them, i don't think i'd be here today. >> pelley: outside the church where they were handing out food, we met dr. joe smiddy, a lung specialist who's the health wagon's volunteer medical director. >> joe smiddy: this is a third- world country of diabetes, hypertension, lung cancer, and c.o.p.d.
>> pelley: dr. smiddy drives a second health wagon, a tractor- trailer x-ray lab. i guess they taught you something about radiology and all of that in medical school. did they teach you how to drive an 18-wheeler? >> smiddy: i did have to go to tractor-trailer school. and it took a long time. >> pelley: was that harder than medical school, in some ways? >> smiddy: it was very difficult to get anyone to insure a doctor to drive a tractor-trailer. insurance companies didn't believe me. >> pelley: his x-ray screen is a window on chronic, untreated disease, including black lung from the mines. >> smiddy: we've seen coal workers pneumoconiosis, emphysema, c.o.p.d., enlarged hearts. there's 15 of the 26 had significant abnormalities here today. >> pelley: just today? >> smiddy: just today. >> pelley: but when they leave your health wagon, they still don't have health insurance. how do they get treated for these things that you're finding? >> smiddy: we negotiate. we can talk to the hospital system. we don't leave any patient unattended.
we raise money for them. >> pelley: you find a way. >> smiddy: we will find a way. >> pelley: they found a way to get glenda moore radiation for her brain cancer. but she'd been a smoker for 25 years, and she died three months after our interview. you don't like this idea of receiving charity? >> moore: no. oh, i hate it. my dad was in the military. and when he was diagnosed with cancer, he was taken care of. and i don't know, i just always assumed, you know, that's how it would work. >> pelley: do you think things would've been different if you'd had an opportunity to go to a doctor more often? >> moore: oh, definitely. i know it would be different. >> pelley: the outreach to all the people like glenda moore costs the health wagon about a million and a half dollars a year-- a third of that is from those federal grants, and the rest from donations. doctors volunteer and pharmaceutical companies donate drugs. but when we were with them...
>> we got no electricity on the health side. >> pelley: ...they sure could have used a new truck battery. >> there goes. yay! >> gardner: can we give you all a free flu shot for helping us? >> need a free flu shot, beaver? >> nope. >> okay. >> pelley: teresa gardner and paula meade apply for grants, and travel to churches praying for donations and passing the plate. are there days you say to yourself, "i can't do this anymore." >> meade: oh, every day. not every day, i shouldn't say every day. there are a lot of days that you go home and you get frustrated because we're writing grants till 10:00 at night. we're begging for money. and you're almost in tears because we're, like, "okay, what are we going to do?" because i've got a family, too. it gets frustrating, it gets hard. >> pelley: it's enough to wear you out, teresa. >> gardner: we're pretty beat down by the end of the day on most days, really. but we do get more out of it than we ever give. >> meade: when you look at it practically, you think, "what in
the world am i thinking?" but then i have that one patient that may come in and say, "couldn't bring you anything, can't pay anything, but here's a quilt i want to give you." and i mean, when they do that and they're so heartfelt and they put their arms around you-- "i don't know what i'd do without you." you're doing a lot better. it lets you think, "okay, i was put here for a purpose." >> gardner: and you can do it another day. >> you're a blessing to us. >> well, thank you all. y'all are blessing us. >> gardner: it's them, and that's what touches our heart. >> whitaker: since this story first aired, meade and gardner have a new health wagon and it's logged a lot of miles. virginia still has not expanded medicaid. and this sad news-- walter laney has died of complications from his diabetes. >> cbs money watch update sponsored by lincoln financial. calling all chief life officers.
>> good evening. emerging from sanction, iran's president has business meetings in europe this week with investors worried about iphone sales, apple reports earnings on tuesday, and puerto rico is warning of gave consequences after a deal to restructure its electric utility's $9 billion debt fell through. i'm vinita fire, cbs news.
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>> whitaker: today, the wealthiest 400 americans are worth over $2 trillion. together, it's been reported they own as much wealth as the bottom half of american households combined. while resentment towards the super-rich grows, there may be a silver lining taking shape. it turns out a lot of those rich people are giving staggering sums of money away in what is being called a golden age of philanthropy. this surge in generosity is not by accident. much of it is the result of an ambitious and targeted campaign called "the giving pledge." it was started by an influential trio-- bill and melinda gates,
and warren buffett. two years ago, charlie rose had the opportunity to get them together to learn more about their new club for billionaires. membership comes with just two requirements-- be worth at least a billion dollars and be willing to give half of that away. >> rose: is it necessary to join the giving pledge that you promise 50% of your net worth? >> melinda gates: yes, in your lifetime or in your will. >> rose: or in your will. >> warren buffett: right. >> rose: are people shocked by that? >> buffett: i don't think so. >> melinda gates: we're asking them to be bold. we're asking them to step out and to do something big. but a lot of them were already on their way there and just hadn't put a numeric number behind it. and i think now, also, the giving pledge has gotten going, people know that's the expectation. >> buffett: and we don't... we don't find a lot of people that say, "i want to join if it was 40%." ( laughter ) >> rose: some may say, "i'm happy to give much more than 50%." >> buffett: oh, most of them. most. my guess is that a very significant percentage of our... our members, i mean, way over
half are going to give a lot more than half. >> rose: that's certainly true of the founders. the gates have already committed to giving 95% of their wealth away; warren buffett, 99%. they say that kind of extreme giving is needed because the rich have been getting so much richer. tech innovations and rising global markets have produced vast fortunes not seen since the industrial revolution. so what does warren buffett say to convince today's billionaires to give their fortunes away? >> buffett: incremental wealth, adding to the wealth they have now, has no real utility to them. but that wealth has incredible utility to other people. it can educate children, it can vaccinate children. it can do all kinds of things. >> rose: there are others, and people that i know, say, "i want to give it to my children. that's what i want to do." what's wrong with that? >> buffett: i don't really think
that, as a society, we want to confer blessings on generation after generation who contribute nothing to society, simply because somebody in the far distant past happened to amass a great sum of wealth. >> rose: so far, 115 billionaires have bought buffett's argument and signed the giving pledge. ages range from 27 to 98. some inherited wealth, but most are self-made. their businesses range from technology and social media to pizza, hair care, and home improvement. combined pledges so far? over a half a trillion dollars. what conditions are there? i mean, can they say, "yes, i'm with you. i'm here. but i want to give it to this institution or that institution." >> buffett: we don't care what institution they give it to. >> bill gates: yeah, in fact, we're not endorsing any flavor of philanthropy. we do think we're all going to be smarter and do it better learning from each other. but there is no pooling of money. we celebrate the diversity of philanthropy. >> rose: billionaires can be shy
when it comes to talking about their money. but warren buffett helped convince seven who have signed the pledge to sit down with "60 minutes." they are investors pete peterson and nicolas berggruen, south african mining tycoon patrice motsepe and his wife, dr. precious moloi-motsepe, entrepreneur sara blakely, and a.o.l. founder steve case, and his wife jean. when did you first hear of the giving pledge? >> jean case: melinda called and talked to us. but we had the benefit of knowing bill and melinda for a long time, going back to our technology roots. >> steve case: we competed against them for many years. >> jean case: we did. >> steve case: and we're happy to finally join forces. >> rose: you wanted to be on their side. >> steve case: yeah, yeah, we wanted to be on the... aligned. >> rose: they've all signed the same pledge, and they bring the same brashness to their philanthropic ambition that helped them build financial empires. >> pete peterson: charlie, this is a group made up largely of entrepreneurs. and they didn't make a billion dollars or $5 billion by doing
the ordinary; they did it by being bold. >> rose: that's certainly true for sara blakely. >> sara blakely: well, i made all the money by making other people's butts look a lot better. >> rose: i think you've missed me. in 2000, she took $5,000 in savings and started the undergarment company spanx. now, she wants her philanthropy to be as cutting edge as her billion-dollar business. >> blakely: i started my business with an invented product that didn't exist and shook up an industry. and i want to collaborate with people and increase my chances of coming up with an idea or something that will do that for my cause, which is helping women. >> rose: at 42, blakely admits she's just beginning to figure out how she'll help women. at 83, warren buffett says he wants to stick with what he's good at-- running his company, berkshire hathaway-- so he's given the bulk of his fortune to the bill and melinda gates foundation so it can be used to reduce global poverty and
disease.as f the other pledgers, they're tackling an impressive array of causes-- unemployment in south africa, early detection and treatment of brain cancer-- and some interests that take on a more political tone: tax reform in california and the national debt. but as bill gates discovered when he left microsoft, going from making money to giving it away isn't always easy. an example of just one of the lessons he's learned-- it doesn't matter how effective a vaccine is; if you don't package and deliver it the right way, it will not do any good. i guess there's a learning process, too. >> melinda gates: absolutely. >> rose: because you feel like, "how do you do this even if you're inclined to do it?" >> bill gates: it's almost disconcerting to switch to an area where you're back at square zero a little bit. and the measurements aren't quite the same as in the business game. what you're trying to do-- the need to take risk, try different
things, and so you need encouragement. >> rose: that's why buffett and the gates invite pledgers once a year to exclusive resorts like kiawah island in south carolina. here, billionaires attend seminars on how to give money away more effectively. our cameras were not allowed in, but we were shown this day's agenda-- it included lessons on how tools like technology can be used to transform failing schools and, with the government cutting funding on medical research, how can philanthropists step in and help spur new medical breakthroughs. but we wondered, what else goes on behind closed doors? will there be a conversation here about failure? >> buffett: sure. >> jean case: yes, there most definitely will be. >> rose: what does that... how do you phrase that? >> buffett: well, if you bat a thousand, you're playing in the little leagues. i mean, the... and the problems are major league. >> steve case: the difference in the entrepreneurial world, when you launch a company, you have a particular idea, a particular product, a particular service-- almost always you pivot, you
shift. you... the market reacts to your initial idea. you make some adjustments. it's only after making a few adjustments that you see the success. we need that same mentality in philanthropy-- trying things, taking risks, recognizing the first try, maybe the second try, maybe the third try won't work. but if you stay at it and you're learning, you're talking to others, and you're learning together, eventually, you'll break through and see the kind of impact you were hoping for. >> rose: jeffrey skoll, one of the first to sign the giving pledge, is using the billions he made as ebay's first president to fight what he calls global threats-- not just one, but five problems he's convinced pose immediate danger to humanity: climate change, water security, pandemics, nuclear proliferation, and the middle east conflict. i mean, is there some argument to make sometimes that... that because people made a lot of money that they may come to these problems with a certain arrogance, like, "i know everything there is to know. i'm so... smart guy. let me tell you what to do." >> jeffrey skoll: i think we all
have a danger... >> rose: arrogance... >> skoll: ...of feeling like we know the answers. and the reality is we don't. >> rose: but that doesn't keep skoll from trying. in addition to his more traditional charitable giving, in 2004, he started the for- profit media company participant, to make movies that promote his philanthropic goals. and the purpose of the movies is what? awareness is one. >> skoll: to create entertainment that inspires and compels social change. and so whether that is climate change or dolphin hunting in japan or dealing with drug sentencing laws, every film we do has a purpose and it has a social action campaign associated with the movie. and we try to get people involved in the issues of the movie to try to make a difference in those issues. >> rose: but the problem with all of this may be that it shows how quickly charity can cross over into advocacy.
take the 2011 movie "contagion." skoll took what he'd learned through his charitable work in pandemics and edfund a movie to warn people that a virus could kill billions. >> on day one, there were two people, and then four, and then 16. in three months, it's a billion. that's where we're headed. >> rose: and what did the movie accomplish for you? >> skoll: in many ways, it put pandemics back on the map, that the public realized how important our public health organizations are, for example. a number of politicians that had seen the movie who were ready to vote on cuts to funding to the cdc recognized that that would be a bad idea. >> randall lane: the public has a right to know who owns the world. >> rose: randall lane, the editor of the business magazine "forbes," says billionaires like skoll have become so influential, he devoted an entire issue to philanthropy. >> lane: government has shown, you know, over the past couple decades that it can no longer
solve the great problems of the day. now, these philanthropists who have incredible wealth, the problem-solving brainpower, and also the name and the influence to be able to open doors, are uniquely qualified right now to solve the huge problems. >> rose: but that does raise the question, do these billionaires have too much power? there's some people who say big philanthropy is not such a good idea, meaning that, somehow, you have enormous power and you're not elected, and that that may not be such a good idea to have people with enormous wealth to have so much influence. >> buffett: well, would they prefer dynastic wealth, pass it on? or would they prefer, you know, obscenely high living? there's a couple other ways to get rid of money, but i... i think it's better if you're helping other people, using a good bit of it for helping other people. >> rose: okay, so there's no instance in which somebody could say, "look, i mean, we got too many people of huge wealth who are having too much influence." >> jean case: well, charlie,
think about bill and polio, for instance-- bill and melinda's work in polio. i mean, they're coming close to eradicating polio on the face of the earth. i think when we have a couple of examples like that, people will see, that's not power being used for personal purposes; that's really leveraging everything you have to change the world to make it better. >> rose: but as warren buffett is finding out, not every billionaire feels that way. >> buffett: i've gotten a lot of yeses when i've called people, but i've gotten a lot of nos, too. because i've been calling people with a billion dollars or more, i've been tempted to think that if they can't sign up for 50%, maybe i should write a book on how to get by on $500 million... ( laughter ) because, apparently, there's a lot of people that don't really know how to do it. >> whitaker: since our story first aired, another 26 billionaires, now totaling 141 people from 15 different countries, have signed the giving pledge.
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