To this very day, every time I see the word "Oracle" I get annoyed. I think it started in the mid 90's when I traveled a lot for work. In every city I visited, I would fly in and before I could even land, I would see a building with "Oracle" plastered across the top in big letters. Then when I got on the ground, I would be required to drive by said building. I seemed like the buildings were built just a little bit taller than their neighbors (mostly Oracle competitors). The architecture was just a little bit more flashy and the window sparkled just a little brighter. I know it sounds judgmental, but combined with the news of the day it seemed that these buildings were just tangible evidence that Mr. Ellison might just fit Wilhelm Reich's definition of a phallic narcissist.
However, Mr. Ellison's curmudgeon-y response to the ultimate the curmudgeon, Mr. Buffet, made me appreciate him in a new way. Perhaps it is my cynicism that is raising its ugly head again, but I can't help but wonder if this calling all billionaires out on the carpet maneuver of Gates and Buffet isn't some sort of ploy to 1. draw attention to their philanthropic agendas, 2. garner some competitive advantage over other agendas so that people will see their charity as more credible (read: worthy of a donation, attention or volunteer time) than others or 3. both. Mr. Ellison's response seems to have supported those notions. And I appreciate what it took for him to take that leap of faith and I'm just amused with his style and his seemingly unwavering sense of self. With that said, I don't think that this personal Gates/Buffet rolodex Telethon is a intentional endeavor for personal fame or added personal fortune (however, it doesn't hurt). However, I don't think that publicity stunt to draw attention to billionaires giving away billions has any real meaning to the people suffering injustice or those of us who are working daily in small ways to make our world a better place.
Perhaps a recent editorial in the Mercury News says it best... "It isn't just the wealthy that should be philanthropists." I would add that being a philanthropist doesn't have any thing to do with the percentage of your wealth you give away. Instead, I would pose that being a philanthropist has everything to do with putting your best gifts toward making the world a better place. Obviously for some, it is money. However, for others it is time and effort, remembering, for without the trench workers, all the money in the world would make no difference.
So Mr. Ellison, despite the fact your stock just went up in my eyes for taking a gamble to publicly join the Mr. Gates and Mr. Buffet cause... I want to call your "'setting an example' and 'influencing others' to give'" and raise you a "volunteer and get your hands dirty to alleviate some suffering" or at least do your best to heap accolades on those who do.
<off soapbox> Other comments welcome.