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People We Love :: Hal Taussig

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CEO Lives the Simple Life

With 83 years behind him and an empty bank account, Hal Taussig seems an unlikely CEO. Taussig heads Untours, Inc., the cultural immersion tourism business he founded in 1992. Company profits and Taussig’s $6,000 annual salary are donated to the Untours Foundation, which provides loans to projects like low-income housing, fair trade enterprises, and farmland purchases for landless Brazilian families.

Taussig’s lifestyle transformed in the 1980s when he wrote a $20,000 check—everything in his bank account at the time—for a real estate deal. The exhilaration he felt at being free of money made a lasting impression, and Taussig has maintained a habit of giving away all of his money. Since 1999, Taussig has handed out more than $5 million.

“I think it’s false to define capitalism as selfish. Charity and taxes are not going to make a better world or a more just world, but businesses can take a lead in doing that.”

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