FORTUNE Magazine broke the story on June 25, 2006 that Warren Buffett would be giving over $30 billion to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. "Brace yourself," Buffett warned editor-at-large Carol Loomis with a grin, then described what he was going to do.
The press had a field day, and numerous news conferences were held with Warren Buffett, Bill Gates and Melinda Gates in attendance. The Christian Science Monitor reported on Mr. Buffett's gift on June 28th in an article entitled A new era for supercharged philanthropy, noting that the gift "doubles the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's size to $60 billion, about five times the assets of the No. 2 Ford Foundation."
There were television interviews, such as the great one on June 26th with Charley Rose. One of the best ones came out in the New York Times (June 27, 2006), and there was straight-talking Warren Buffet bluntness, right there in print. To those who thought that he might be giving the lion's share of his billions to his three children, Mr. Buffett was direct as usual. "I don't believe in dynastic wealth," he said, calling those who grow up in affluent circumstances "members of the lucky sperm club." (see: lettrist: Two richest americans vow to fight "lucky sperm club" )
Wait a minute... dynastic wealth is pretty straightforward. But what is the Lucky Sperm Club? I must confess that I had never heard the term before.
For the first term for our lexidiem, we could simply define it as:
n. 1. The inherited wealth of established upper-class families. 2. A person, family, or lineage possessing inherited wealth. 3.Old money (this as opposed to nouveau riche). [Borrowing quite liberally from Bartleby.com]
For the next term, the Double-Tongued Word Wrester Dictionary has just recently defined it as:
lucky sperm club
n. jocularly and as a group, children who inherit from wealthy parents, especially when the children are seen as undeserving. Categories: English. Slang.
1987 David Greising Chicago Sun-Times (Dec. 13) "Trump's greatest project: Himself" p. 18: He says Barron Hilton, heir to the Conrad Hilton hotel empire, belongs to the "Lucky Sperm Club."
1994 Michael Young Rise of the Meritocracy p. xvi: Even if it could be demonstrated that ordinary people had less native ability than those selected for high position, that would no mean that they deserved to get less. Being a member of the "lucky sperm club" confers no moral right to advantage. What one is born with, or without, is not of one’s own doing.
2006 Landon Thomas Jr. New York Times (June 27) "A $31 Billion Gift Between Friends": As for any thought he might have had in giving the bulk of his billions to his three children, Mr. Buffett was characteristically blunt. "I don’t believe in dynastic wealth," he said, calling those who grow up in wealthy circumstances "members of the lucky sperm club."
So it looks like our lexidiems here are pretty synonymous, for all intents and purposes. The term "dynastic wealth" seems pretty cut and dry... very dry. The term "lucky sperm club," however seems to have a number of references available, and some of them are quite humorous. A Google search of "lucky sperm club" shows over 150,000 entries, with a few of the most memorable being:
- George W. Bush for President in Campaign 2000
The Lucky Sperm Club by George W. Bush, Charter Member. Like most Americans, I, George W. Bush, started out as a single sperm. However, unlike most people, ...
- Lyrics to The Lucky Sperm Club
Complete lyrics to a the Lucky Sperm Club by the Reggae group The Toyes
- The Blog Arianna Huffington: Bush and Sulzberger
Features Arianna Huffington's "Lucky Sperm Club" Quiz. And if you want her take on the members of the Lucky Sperm Club, don't miss this quiz.
It's interesting that Wikipedia recognizes neither the terms "lucky sperm club" nor "dynastic wealth" if that means anything. However, it does show several entries for "old money" so perhaps an astute Wikipedia editor could correct these simple oversights.
There is a downloadable Lucky Sperm Club MP3 track from a Canadian band known as Half-Baked. Seems to have nothing to do with what we've covered here, but you can be the judge. Maybe the irritating noises I was getting had to do with my personal audio setup.
Speaking of Arianna Huffington, there's a great video clip of her on the Bill Maher Show on October 21, 2005, one where she was discussing "Plamegate" with him. Towards the end of the segment, the following discourse took place:
MAHER: --you know, for something far less, that started with Whitewater. This is – where could this go? Where is this in two years?
HUFFINGTON: Here's where it goes. This story is bringing together two men: George W. Bush and Arthur Sulzberger, the publisher of the New York Times—
HUFFINGTON: --who are really charter members of the “lucky sperm” club. You know, the—
MAHER: The “lucky sperm” club?
HUFFINGTON: Yeah, you know what I mean.
MAHER: I have never heard of that club.
HUFFINGTON: They got there – they got there because of who they were born to.
HUFFINGTON: And what we have here is basically – to paraphrase Pete Hamill – “they were born on third base and they thought they hit a triple.” And now they're busy trashing the stadium. And it's about time that we stopped them. That we stopped George W. Bush, and that we stop Sulzberger. [applause]
MAHER: Arianna Huffington, everybody! [cheers]
Source: HBO Broadcast Transcript, 10/21/2005, Episode #321
Seems like I'm not the only one who had never heard of the Lucky Sperm Club until recently.
Found that there is an 83-foot motor yacht named Lucky Sperm, usually found in the San Francisco Bay area. It's owned by Cam Theriot, who is one of the heirs of the San Francisco Chronicle. It is said that he has had some luck breeding racehorses, which could be one of the reasons for this yacht's interesting name. According to nautical journal 'Lectronic Latitude, it is based in Climax, PA. Mr. Theriot is also involved in desert racing, and his team name is (now just guess) Lucky Sperm Racing, and he displays a rather characteristic logo on the side of his vehicle. Mr. Theriot is reported to be a benefactor to the Canary Foundation, St. Jude Children's Hospital and a number of other worthwhile causes.
The multi-talented Ben Stein, (lawyer, writer, actor, humorist, economist, etc.) wrote an interesting column in the New York Times entitled "First, Tame That Envy. Then Give Thanks." In it he discussed the things he had to be grateful for, then ended with the following observation:
Anyway, this was my gratitude list, or at least a small part of it. You can have a list, too, though yours may well be totally different from mine. Viewed this way, we're all in the lucky sperm club, and it's a great day. It may change tomorrow, but as someone a lot better looking than I am said in the best movie ever made, "Tomorrow is another day."
New York Times, April 9, 2006
So, on behalf of all of who aspire to be regular members of the Lucky Sperm Club, we'll just keep plugging away and try to follow Ben Stein's advice. And for those who are card-carrying colleagues of that elite group, please try to follow the examples of Warren Buffett, and let him be your mentor.