In today’s Wall Street Journal, our friend John Miller has a splendid article inspired by the recent decision by Warren Buffett to give most of his wealth to the Gates Foundation. He makes a lot of good points about philanthropy, including an attack on one of my pet peeves — the cliche that wealthy people have an obligation to “give back to society.”

Miller writes, apropos of Gates’ use of that phrase, “Are we to assume that he has spent his adult life “taking away” — as if he and the other parasites at Microsoft must make amends for having sucked the life out of the US economy? Surely there are better reasons to embark upon the world’s biggest grant-making program than to salve the conscience of a guy who has no business feeling guilty in the first place.”

We hear this “I must give back” talk frequently. I suspect that it stems from the success of the socialists in creating the false notion that personal success in business is somehow undeserved and that to have earned profits in trade is tantamount to theft.