Join 3,495 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Goodbye, Mr. Gates
June 15, 2006 2:51 PM   Subscribe

Gates to Leave Day-to-Day Role at Microsoft in 2008. Following the tradition of previous capitalists-turned-philanthropists such as J.P. Getty and Andrew Carnegie, Bill Gates has announced that in 2008 he will quit his full-time role as head of Microsoft to focus his attention on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (whose website seems to be having issues at the moment). [NewsFilter]
posted by justkevin (87 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Leaving Ballmer to fend for himself? Is he nuts?
posted by doctor_negative at 2:56 PM on June 15, 2006


I bet Ballmer will be leaving soon, as well.
posted by bshort at 2:58 PM on June 15, 2006


Years ago I had dinner with Gates (along with the two dozen other business interns who were working at MS for the summer), and somehow found the temerity to ask why he and the firm weren't more active in charitable giving. He said for tax reasons it made sense for MS to encourage individual employees to donate, rather than do it as a firm, and that right then he was focused on making money rather than giving it away, but when the time came to start serious charitable work he would do it with the same energy and focus and sense of purpose. I wasn't sure then whether to believe him, but whatever we think of MS and his business prctices, I think now that he deserves every available prize and accolade for the amount of money and drive he and Melinda have brought to their foundation's good and noble works.
posted by twsf at 3:00 PM on June 15, 2006


Yeah, that's a lot of money to spend.
posted by delmoi at 3:09 PM on June 15, 2006


From people I've known in the global health area, he's clearly more interested in that right now than MS. The Foundation just dropped $30M on the University of Washington to help found a new Department of Global Health.
posted by dw at 3:13 PM on June 15, 2006


Gate$ bashing is so 90's. In the end he ended up doing more good for the world than all of his bitchy little detractors put together. Good for him.
posted by slatternus at 3:14 PM on June 15, 2006


So he is leaving when Vista ships I see...

(nerd joke, dont feel bad if you dont get it)
posted by SirOmega at 3:15 PM on June 15, 2006


It's okay to like Bill Gates and still hate Microsoft, right?
posted by Robot Johnny at 3:16 PM on June 15, 2006


Imagine you were a charity, and Steve Ballmer came charging through your door, chanting volunteers! volunteers! volunteers! and seeing the sweat fly off his body as he threw wads of cash in the air. That...would be awesome!
posted by furtive at 3:18 PM on June 15, 2006


Yes, it's more OK than ever to hate Microsoft, and no, you don't need to be a nerd to get the Vista joke.
posted by slatternus at 3:19 PM on June 15, 2006


In the end he ended up doing more good for the world than all of his bitchy little detractors put together. Good for him.

Absolutely. I'm a huge fan of his altruistic nature and I only wish that more pioneers of industry would follow his extremely generous lead.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 3:20 PM on June 15, 2006


And don't forget to give mad props to Melinda, who is very much a player in their charitable work together...
posted by twsf at 3:32 PM on June 15, 2006


Does this mean the Coronel won't be behind the fryer?
posted by evil holiday magic at 3:38 PM on June 15, 2006


And the coronets will be on fire.
posted by mr_roboto at 3:44 PM on June 15, 2006


I hope he doesn't try to reverse engineer the Easter Seals, of cut off the air supply to the Red Cross.

I know you're out there, I can hear you breathing.

(for now)

posted by evil holiday magic at 3:47 PM on June 15, 2006


International public health scholars paint a less rosy picture of the Gates foundation's initiatives than the mainstream media [.pdf].

Which is not to say that the intent isn't good, of course, but the approach virtually ensures that they won't do any good in the balance. Technical solutions to political/economic problems have repeatedly failed to improve the lives of the impoverished.
posted by carmen at 3:48 PM on June 15, 2006


But technical solutions have made a difference, time and again. Overreliance on them is bad (since they don't have a lasting effect without people on the ground and money/governments to follow up), but technology has made a big difference in malaria prevention, e.g.

I have things I can link to, but because of where I work it would be Pepsi Blue.
posted by dw at 3:58 PM on June 15, 2006


International public health scholars paint a less rosy picture of the Gates foundation's initiatives than the mainstream media.
To be fair, that PDF appears to be from a social scientist (to judge by her home page) and its main thrust is that the Gates Foundation is not funding research into the social and political issues that are the most intractable part of improving global health care.

A reasonable enough position, but I think the Gates Foundation is avoiding tackling social issues precisely because they're the most intractable part of the picture. The unspoken assumption is that a prize of $X is equally likely to produce results no matter what the contest is, but it seems to me that "big money to whoever comes up with a malaria vaccine" is far, far more likely to bear fruit than "big money to whoever figures out how to get rural villagers to wash their hands more often." It's not just about putting money into the projects with the biggest potential payoff, but about putting money into projects with good payoffs and a decent chance of success.

Some of that writer's objections to the foundation are pretty strange: she actually comes out against development of single-dose vaccines that can be given to babies, on the grounds that it'll make repeat checkups less likely. Well, in many cases there are already no repeat checkups, which is part of the problem with older multi-dose vaccines to begin with. She calls the prospect of development of effective vaccines against diarrheal diseases "ominous" and warns that if they're developed, poor people will be less likely to get clean water. Well, lots of poor people are going to have to live with dirty water with or without such a vaccine -- wouldn't it be better to have the vaccine so they're at less risk?

In short, I think you can debate whether or not the foundation is spending its money in the absolutely most optimal way, but it's hard to argue credibly that they're not going to do any good at all.
posted by koreth at 4:12 PM on June 15, 2006


I will never forgive Gates after what his organization did to Lisa McPherson.



Okay, who's been tampering with my outrage cards?
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 4:17 PM on June 15, 2006


I am liking Mr. Gates more and more everyday.
posted by caddis at 4:24 PM on June 15, 2006


The Lancet's article raises some fair criticism as to whether the Gates Foundation's approach is the best possible strategy, but their counter suggestions sound both vague and dangerous (albeit to a total non-expert in solving humanity's problems). Their current strategy seems likely to do at least some good and minimal harm.

I think having the Gates Foundation get involved in international politics and farm subsidies would most likely produce little positive effect, and in the worst case scenario, produce a serious negative effect.
posted by justkevin at 4:27 PM on June 15, 2006


Personally I believe that it's how you make your money which shows your true character. Not how much of it you can give away. You can't buy a soul.
posted by canned polar bear at 4:28 PM on June 15, 2006 [1 favorite]


koreth, I agree with a lot of your criticisms (it's not the best article ever, but it's short and publicly available, which makes it good for posting here), but I don't think the criticism that she's a social scientist is pertinent. Social scientists have spent a lot of time looking at what empirical effects development programs have on the people they claim to help, and such research is certainly valid in assessing whether or not a new program is likely to have success.

She calls the prospect of development of effective vaccines against diarrheal diseases "ominous" and warns that if they're developed, poor people will be less likely to get clean water.

To be fair, she doesn't say that treating water-born diseases is a bad idea: "More ominously, [treatment] would probably mean that the problem of extending clean water and sanitation services... would seem far less pressing." She's suggesting that treating part of the problem--disease--without addressing the cause--water and sanitation services--will have the result of allowing governments to ignore the cause.

Without water and sanitation services, we can extrapolate a few likely things: the area will remain economically depressed, since businesses are unlikely to invest in an area with piles of garbage and no running water; people will continue to experience hardship in the form of having to travel long distances for palatable water; and stronger strains of diseases will emerge as the conditions for their evolution remain.

It's not terrible to discuss the fact that short term relief of water-born illness might result in less pressure on a government to provide the basic necessities of life (and please no small-government arguments except from people who buy all of their water from private companies).

The point is not that it's bad to come up with vaccines. But in the same paragraph, she points out that vaccines are available for "almost a dozen of the leading childhood diseases." The point is that these vaccines have to be part of a health delivery system that is available to the poor, and in a context of the basic necessities like garbage removal and water that we in the North take for granted.

In a world where aid hinges on things like Structural Adjustment Programs that require the privatization of many government services, the political and economic policies that shape the lives of the poor will interact with whatever intervention one tries to make. If one doesn't try to account for that interaction, then program effects are at best random.
posted by carmen at 5:00 PM on June 15, 2006


Personally I believe that it's how you make your money which shows your true character. Not how much of it you can give away. You can't buy a soul.

/worth repeating
posted by effwerd at 5:23 PM on June 15, 2006


Personally I believe that it's how you make your money which shows your true character.

Yup. Lock-in, forced incompatibility, inextensible file formats, embrace and extend, etc. etc.

Their business practices suck.It's not that they haven't done good, but that they could have done so much more with a different corporate philosophy. Software shouldn't be broken by design.
posted by sonofsamiam at 5:29 PM on June 15, 2006 [1 favorite]


The New Yorker did (as usual) a really interesting profile of Bill Gates and his efforts to combat malaria in this article (posted on the writer's website). It highlights how important he's been to the fight against malaria, and what money can acheive when an organization can take risks with it that a government couldn't accept. Well worth reading.

(For an even more fantastic New Yorker article about malaria, which focusses on past efforts at elimination using DDT, see here.)
posted by Dasein at 5:43 PM on June 15, 2006


the political and economic policies that shape the lives of the poor will interact with whatever intervention one tries to make.
Totally agreed. The question then becomes, can the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have a lasting impact on those policies? I don't believe most of the problems in that area are ones that a private charitable foundation has any hope of solving -- but a private foundation can spur research on vaccines that are not profitable enough to get serious funding from drug companies.

I would rather they spend their money where it's likely to make a positive difference than throw all of it at problems that have had quite a lot of attention and quite a few attempts at resolving them throughout history (it's not exactly news that local politics can hinder aid distribution and promote poverty) with very little movement toward lasting solutions.

"Lasting" is important, and I think that's why the social side of the equation is largely intractable. Once you develop a polio vaccine, you are in a position to wipe out polio forever, after which you no longer need to spend money developing polio vaccines, and you can move on to the next disease.

Once you figure out how to get an African dictator to let your NGO operate clinics in his villages, you're still apt to be booted out of the country as soon as he's overthrown or as soon as he changes his mind about your motives. And even if that doesn't happen, you will never be able to move on to another country because the first set of clinics consumes your annual budget on an ongoing basis.
posted by koreth at 5:52 PM on June 15, 2006


Dealing with Meta-politics, totalitarianism and bureaucratic corruption are multi-generational goals that no amount of money in the world can address instantly, so I don't buy the "they're not using the money effectively" angle. Vaccines and clean water first, THEN move on...
posted by slatternus at 6:15 PM on June 15, 2006


Microsoft has never been as evil as the average bank or oil company.
posted by smackfu at 6:22 PM on June 15, 2006


Maybe he will spend more time concentrating more on this.
posted by wfc123 at 6:27 PM on June 15, 2006


Don't forget about Bill and Melinda's education efforts too.

Good for them, I say. And stop with the nitpicking about strategy. I'm no fan of MS, but Bill Gates knows how to be effective.
posted by selfmedicating at 6:50 PM on June 15, 2006


I've never followed Mr. Gates too closely, or Microsoft for that matter. The thing that makes me wonder though is that I don't remember hearing much about all of his largesse until the time of Microsoft's legal problems. That could just be due to my attention being drawn by the anti-trust suits. But at the same time all of his work in giving is advertised so widely, it just strikes me as a PR move in many ways. I'm not meaning to denigrate it in any way. I just wonder about living in a world that is so thoroughly shaped by an individual and his decisions. According to Forbes he's worth 46.5 billion, according to the Foundation website the endowment is 29.1 billion, the foundation's given only 10.5 billion away in the last ten year's. Yes, 10.5 billion is alot, but that doesn't even come close to the amount his income bracket has saved over the last 20 to 30 years in tax breaks. I just don't see him as this god everyone makes him out to be. Not a bad guy by my understanding, but what he's given away seems like a pittance compared to what he's worth. I concede I may be wrong, but I suspect the Foundation's PR bills are about the same or less then what's been given away.
posted by andywolf at 7:02 PM on June 15, 2006


He's worth 46.5 billion and he's given away 29.1 billion. Endowing a foundation == giving away your money. You could argue that what's he got left is sufficient for any man, but he certainly hasn't given only a pittance away.
posted by smackfu at 7:14 PM on June 15, 2006


Laura Bush taught me how to read.

Then she ran me over and enlisted me in the army.
posted by evil holiday magic at 7:27 PM on June 15, 2006


46.5 + 29.1 = 75.6 so in all he's given away 38 % or so of his wealth. All I'm saying is that, plus what he's paid in taxes is little more than the cut in his gross than he would have paid in taxes 40 years ago. Hardly makes makes him a saint. The 29.1 billion probably accrues more in interest then they give away each year. Still seems like a calculated PR move to me. Not only does the endowment avoid taxes, it's not exactly like just giving it straight to charity. Foundations can do just as much, or more, good for those on the board as it does for those it helps. I repeat, not saying he's a bad guy. But he's known for being a shrewd business man, I think this is as much about Microsoft's public image (as well as his own) as anything, including helping people.
posted by andywolf at 7:32 PM on June 15, 2006


pittance was the wrong word
posted by andywolf at 7:33 PM on June 15, 2006


To put $29.1B in perspective, Latvia's 2005 GDP was $29.2B.

The combined 2005 GDP of Botswana, Malawi, and Swaziland (all top ten in the world in HIV cases per capita) is $31.45B.

It's a hell of a lot of money. It's the second largest non-profit in the world, behind only IKEA's holding company, the Stichting INGKA Foundation. And they've done jack for global health.

I concede I may be wrong, but I suspect the Foundation's PR bills are about the same or less then what's been given away.

Based on my interactions with the Gates Foundation, it's not a PR move. It's not even close to a PR move. And even if it was, so? I mean, how many American cities and towns got their first public libraries because of Andrew Carnegie's PR move?
posted by dw at 7:36 PM on June 15, 2006


Remember: a lot of his wealth is just on paper. He can't liquidate his Microsoft stock without bringing the value crashing down.

It's not like he's holding $29.1 billion in cash.
posted by mr_roboto at 7:37 PM on June 15, 2006


whoops, make that $46.5 billion in cash
posted by mr_roboto at 7:38 PM on June 15, 2006


People, it's easy to give away a ton of money when you have 100x a ton of money. Yes, it's laudable, but I think much more of a person that gives his or her hard earned cash to charities... and they don't have that much. And, it happens every damn day.
posted by e40 at 7:46 PM on June 15, 2006


46.5 + 29.1 = 75.6 so in all he's given away 38 % or so of his wealth. All I'm saying is that, plus what he's paid in taxes is little more than the cut in his gross than he would have paid in taxes 40 years ago. Hardly makes makes him a saint.

Geez, your animus towards him makes me wonder what vitriol you have stored up for Paul Allen, who spent his wealth on sports teams, a major Internet radio station, an ugly-ass building, a nice movie theatre, a spaceship, and a small boat. And according to Wikipedia, a mere $815 million in philanthropy.

Clearly, Satan worships him.
posted by dw at 7:47 PM on June 15, 2006


e40 writes "People, it's easy to give away a ton of money when you have 100x a ton of money."

Or 2x as the case may be. But what are a couple of orders of magnitude among friends?
posted by mr_roboto at 7:51 PM on June 15, 2006


Years from now, when Mr. Gates is sleeping beneath six feet of earth and a three meter marble smiley face, it will hopefully be obvious what his intentions as a philanthropist were.
posted by evil holiday magic at 8:11 PM on June 15, 2006


Personally I believe that it's how you make your money which shows your true character. Not how much of it you can give away. You can't buy a soul.

Agreed. Not only that, the Gates Foundation often places stipulations on its donations requiring the funds be spent only on Microsoft products. Not exactly "generous" to put self-serving conditions on your generosity, to say the least.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:19 PM on June 15, 2006


Personally I believe that it's how you make your money which shows your true character. Not how much of it you can give away. You can't buy a soul.

I'm sorry, I must've missed the part in the Gates bio where Microsoft polluted the environment, stole everything in sight and machine-gunned civilians. I thought it was just software sales...?

C'mon, ya' damn cynics. Gates made his money fair and square. I'm not ready to fit him for a halo, but damn, can't we all be a little thankful he's decided to give a little bit of it away?

Let's say the philanthropic giving saves the life of an African baby who would've otherwise died of disease. We'd call that good, right?
posted by frogan at 8:49 PM on June 15, 2006


Blazecock Pileon writes "Not only that, the Gates Foundation often places stipulations on its donations requiring the funds be spent only on Microsoft products."

I don't think this is true. I think it might even be illegal. Where did you hear it?
posted by mr_roboto at 8:52 PM on June 15, 2006


I don't think this is true. I think it might even be illegal. Where did you hear it?

Why would it be illegal?

[DDN] Fwd: [GKD] Microsoft Donations: Roses with Thorns?

``We are working on a network in the Latin America region for communities for which we use by preference FireFox as our browser. We suggested they try this browser as Explorer was causing problems, and discovered to our surprise that the Gates foundation "gift" comes with tags...'

And since the Gates Foundation is at least partially a measure to avoid tax liability for the valuation of Microsoft shares, I see Gates' condition-filled "donations" to India and Philadelphia, among other projects, as equally self-serving to Microsoft's bottom line — and, ultimately, Gates' bottom line, as the corporation's largest shareholder.

Don't get me wrong, philanthropy is a great thing. As a species we've got serious problems to deal with. All I suggest is that putting conditions on gifts that are really subtly intended for long-term commercial benefit bring me pause, when the purpose of philanthropy is usually to improve the "greater good".
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:14 PM on June 15, 2006


Gates made his money fair and square.

I suspect there are some folks here, here and here (or at least before Bush II) who might take issue with this statement, among numerous others.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:22 PM on June 15, 2006


I don't think this is true. I think it might even be illegal. Where did you hear it?
posted by mr_roboto at 11:52 PM EST on June 15 [+fave] [!]


Not only is this not illegal, it is common practice in both government and private aid to tie funds to policy and product buy-ins. That's basically what SAPs are: they say "you have to privatize your health care and education system to get this debt relief." The US government has cut funding to any health providers in Africa that offer abortion services, even if the money does not go for those services. A lot of aid comes in the form of food (which is grown by 1st world farmers on gov't subsidies) that then undercuts the local market, forcing local farmers to switch to cash crops or move to the city (which is part of what makes the GF's goal of genetically splicing a more nutritious crop a sadly laughable approach to starvation and poor health).

I don't want to suggest that there is nothing that can be done, but three years of studying international development has convinced me that the "anything is better than nothing" attitude is naive. Worse, by not really examining the costs of poorly thought out programs, we allow our governments and the citizens like Bill Gates who have the resources to really make change to disguise self-serving and potentially destructive aims within supposedly philanthropic programs.
posted by carmen at 9:59 PM on June 15, 2006


mr_roboto writes: Or 2x as the case may be. But what are a couple of orders of magnitude among friends?

You misunderstood. I meant 100x times the amount of money that most people would consider "a lot". On second thought, make that 1000x.
posted by e40 at 10:05 PM on June 15, 2006


Blazecock Pileon writes "Why would it be illegal?"

I think it would likely jeopardize the foundations nonprofit status. And I still don't believe it; that email you posted wasn't particularly convincing.

e40 writes "You misunderstood. I meant 100x times the amount of money that most people would consider 'a lot'. On second thought, make that 1000x."

Hold on; you said "People, it's easy to give away a ton of money when you have 100x a ton of money." Now, you're saying that by 100x a ton of money, you meant the ~$45b of Gates personal fortune, which would be 100 times more than what most people would mean by "a ton of money". In that case, shouldn't your original statement have been, "People, it's easy to give away 50x a ton of money when you have 100x a ton of money", since he's given away ~$30b, which, by your own nomenclature, would be 50 times more than what most people would mean by "a ton of money"?

Just trying to be accurate.
posted by mr_roboto at 10:41 PM on June 15, 2006


Geez, I mean it's still 38% of his wealth. Take a look at the next 99 people on Forbes list of richest and see how much they've given to charity. And if you think this is just a PR stunt, I think he would have been smarter about it and named it the Microsoft Foundation. He's giving away his money and getting tax breaks on it - doesn't everyone else do the same thing? Is there some rule that if your net worth exceeds a certain amount, you're morally obligated to not get tax breaks on your donations?

I think everything he's doing through the Foundation is sincere. He could have directed the Foundation to donate to more high-profile causes like AIDS, cancer, or even autism (no offense to those listed) but instead he made a very practical choice to do something about a health issue within his means to solve - malaria. $29 billion wouldn't cure cancer and even if it could, the number of lives that potentially could be saved by curing malaria far exceeds it.
posted by junesix at 10:55 PM on June 15, 2006


All this M$ bashing is sounding increasingly weak and desperate.
posted by Artw at 11:00 PM on June 15, 2006


I say let the debate rage on. I'm interested in knowing more than what the press says. Go read A Christmas Carol if you just want to feel all warm and fuzzy about some rich guy.
posted by evil holiday magic at 11:18 PM on June 15, 2006


Watching the knee-jerk Bill Bashers try to get traction on this one is as funny as watching a kitten chase marbles on freshly groomed ice.
posted by slatternus at 11:35 PM on June 15, 2006


yeah, gates is a really nice guy.
posted by canned polar bear at 12:00 AM on June 16, 2006


I am not a fan of microsoft but I do know that setting up a philanthropic organization is a choice and it is a choice that the Gates' made. I don't really care if he is nice or not . As for his business practices -- he made his billions within the context of lots of similar business practices sanctioned by the US economic system (and he had a vision at the right place at the right time). I think his and other similar philanthropic enterprises of other eras might be born out of guilt, tax write-offs, egocentric desires to be remembered or whatever other label you want to put on it but in the end attempts such as this (particularly the vaccination program) will likely touch people and change lives in ways that are truly remarkable.
posted by bluesky43 at 5:12 AM on June 16, 2006


And I still don't believe it; that email you posted wasn't particularly convincing.

You wanted an example, so I gave you three. The price for buying hype has become very cheap, I guess.

he made his billions within the context of lots of similar business practices sanctioned by the US economic system

By law the US government should not have sanctioned the way in which Bill Gates ran Microsoft. As always, it depends on who's in charge of enforcing the laws on the books...

To me, Gates is not all that much different from a Carnegie, Annenberg or a Rockefeller in how he has screwed over many livelihoods to make his wealth (I won't get into how Microsoft actively gets in the way of technological progress to maintain profits).

Like his predecessors, Gates believes people will forget his past misbehavior by buying their amnesia. I'm not for sale, sorry.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:17 AM on June 16, 2006


Gates to Leave Day-to-Day Role at Microsoft in 2008

His release date will slip to Q3 2009 at least.
posted by mikepop at 7:26 AM on June 16, 2006


"I staunchly refuse to surrender a deep, and bizarrely personal hatred I have spent years carefully nurturing!"
posted by slatternus at 7:49 AM on June 16, 2006


koreth: I don't believe most of the problems in that area are ones that a private charitable foundation has any hope of solving -- but a private foundation can spur research on vaccines that are not profitable enough to get serious funding from drug companies.

I don't know that I agree with this. One of the problems is that the most effective solutions generally involve decentralized development strategies involving the novel use of locally-manufactured technology. Gates as part of Microsoft has spent much of his career expanding the rights of large corporate solutions at the expense of homebrew technology. That's not to say that he doesn't mean well, just that some of the more effective solutions to these problems are going to require a radical rethinking of the kinds of patent laws on which his wealth is based.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:19 AM on June 16, 2006


To me, Gates is not all that much different from a Carnegie, Annenberg or a Rockefeller in how he has screwed over many livelihoods to make his wealth (I won't get into how Microsoft actively gets in the way of technological progress to maintain profits).

Like his predecessors, Gates believes people will forget his past misbehavior by buying their amnesia. I'm not for sale, sorry.


He said, posting from a computer in a public library, thinking about some anti-Gates thing he saw on public TV, noting that he currently had no hookworms.
posted by dw at 8:22 AM on June 16, 2006


"Audience members ooh'd and ahh'd at Mr. Gates's demo of new features in Microsoft's Office 2007 software. And they cheered when he promised that Clippy, the animated paperclip "assistant," was dead for good. But nothing was more compelling than the way the man himself uses technology. Reiterating his love of gadgets, Mr. Gates pulled a slick Motorola Q from his pocket. He said he is fascinated by the video- sharing site YouTube.com. What does the the world's richest man watch on YouTube? 'A bunch of old Harlem Globetrotters movies, mostly,' he said." [Wall Street Journal, 6/1/2006]
posted by blucevalo at 8:46 AM on June 16, 2006


I'm always confused by the animosity displayed towards the rich giver (only 38%!), especially when contrasted with the admiration shown towards the wealthy spendthrift. (so long as s/he's cool enough)

Given that pretty much all MeFi readers are pretty rich anyway, is there a formula to map wealth to acceptable philanthropy?
posted by Busy Old Fool at 9:45 AM on June 16, 2006


Blazecock Pileon writes "You wanted an example, so I gave you three. The price for buying hype has become very cheap, I guess."

Gimme a break. Let's take look at your "examples":

1. This email from someone working with a nonprofit in Oaxaca building a wireless network with Gates Foundation funding claims that:
The computer network does not allow any of the users of the donated computers to install any software not owned by Microsoft, even any open source software. The network within which the computers reside will not allow any individual computers to download software to install, ostensibly to prevent viruses and incompatible software from jeopardizing the Microsoft system.
This looks like a case of someone setting firewall rules very strictly, possibly only allowing download access to Microsoft to allow for updates. That this is a product of Gates Foundation stipulations is pure speculation on the part of the author. In fact, it would be amazing if a nonprofit setting up a wireless network doesn't have local administrative control of network access privileges.

But, fine, I'll give you a "maybe" on this one. It seems pretty tenuous, though.

2. This rhetorically over-the-top article about "Bill Gates' 'generosity' in handing around Microsoft products to Indian governments is the cynical and self-serving business development model of a drug dealer pushing addictive poison, like offering free packets of cigarettes to college kids to get them addicted." No details, and the link to the original AP article is dead. The Gates Foundation isn't mentioned, and there's no mention of Foundation grant stipulations requiring Microsoft products to be used.

3. This Microsoft press release describing a cooperative project between Microsoft and the Philadelphia school district to integrate computers into the Philadelphia school curriculum. The project is funded by the school district. No mention is made either of the Gates Foundation or of stipulations that Microsoft products must be used.

Did you even read these links? 'Cause you don't have three examples there, you have a single speculative email. The last two links aren't even about the Gates Foundation!

Let me counter your speculative email with my anecdotal evidence: I know two professors whose research programs are largely funded by the Gates Foundation, and they both use Macs.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:33 AM on June 16, 2006


He said, posting from a computer in a public library, thinking about some anti-Gates thing he saw on public TV, noting that he currently had no hookworms.

Jesus, what's with the personal attack? Do you honestly think you're better then someone else?
posted by andywolf at 12:05 PM on June 16, 2006


I'm always confused by the animosity displayed towards the rich giver (only 38%!), especially when contrasted with the admiration shown towards the wealthy spendthrift. (so long as s/he's cool enough)

My point was that we used to have wealth progressively taxed. 38% is nowhere near as much as he would've been taxed 30 or 40 years ago. This isn't a knee jerk reaction and I don't begrudge anyone success. I've worked with disabled adults for years, they're one of the hardest hit populations of tax cuts. The state I live in lost in the region of 60 billion over 10 years, for social services, due to Bush's tax cut. Part of those cuts goes to state hospitals that house people with severe mental disorders. What happens to them? I met one woman with severe Cerebral Palsy who lived on government assistance through federal funding. Her new roommate was a woman kicked out of the state hospital, this new roomie, who was fully ambulatory, but completely out of her mind, would verbally/physically abuse the woman with CP and the house staff. I knew another woman that worked at a home with a guy that was just released from a state hospital, she lost her baby when he attacked her. That's not even a tip of the iceberg. To me that brutality is at the expense of someone having a little more money to invest or give away. I just have a hard time saying thanks or bravo.

If those that are released from state hospitals aren't integrated into the community they end up on the street. That just leads to a cycle of incarceration that ends up being more expensive than the initial group home or hospital. It's a ridiculous and brutal cycle.

I deal with the fallout of constant cut backs from social spending everyday. I work on an ambulance now and I volunteer firefight and maybe I'm wrong, but I wonder how much of that wealth is a result of the cuts in spending that directly create so much of the suffering I see people live with everyday.
posted by andywolf at 12:51 PM on June 16, 2006 [1 favorite]


Did you even read these links? 'Cause you don't have three examples there, you have a single speculative email. The last two links aren't even about the Gates Foundation!

Guess you didn't read the comment: for tax purposes, the two "foundations" may as well be the same.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:29 PM on June 16, 2006


Two? Which two?

You're not making any sense here.
posted by mr_roboto at 2:15 PM on June 16, 2006


And none of those links you posted said anything about anyone stipulating that Microsoft products must be used, which was your original claim.
posted by mr_roboto at 2:20 PM on June 16, 2006


Whatever.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:20 PM on June 16, 2006


The Gates haters here are so pathetic. Here is a guy who has already given billions to charity and is poised to focus his incredible energy into charity, and in the process will most likely bring along many other rich entrepreneurs, and all you can do is complain? Pathetic. Oh yeah, I know, he is a brutal competitor and kicked your sorry little ass at Monopoly, what with his two billion hotels on Park Place and all, but get over it. He is now putting that ferocious competitiveness to good use. You should be happy. (I feel compelled to add - "Macs Suck, but they don't. Nevertheless, Bill Gates is the philanthropist supreme working to solve world heath issues, while Steve Jobs is mostly interested in Steve Jobs.)
posted by caddis at 4:09 PM on June 16, 2006


Oh, and sell MSFT and buy GOOG. Without Gates I think MSFT will struggle, especially against the juggernaut that is GOOG.
posted by caddis at 4:18 PM on June 16, 2006


What's the goal here? Trivialize details? Everyone shuts their traps and doesn't ask questions?

The choice being presented is whether to accept the press's glowing blowjob or consider Gates's actions with the degree of scrutiny his history has merited.
posted by evil holiday magic at 4:33 PM on June 16, 2006


Yeah, and that's made particularly easy when Gates' critics feel free to invent facts.
posted by mr_roboto at 4:37 PM on June 16, 2006


At least they invent something.

/cheapshot
posted by evil holiday magic at 5:17 PM on June 16, 2006


I liked that. That's funny.
posted by mr_roboto at 5:42 PM on June 16, 2006


Okay so how come I have to love or hate this guy? I never met him. I don't wanna take sides in this ongoing love/hate Gate$ thing. Why people still go on about it is beyond me. MSIE won the browser wars. It's over. Go whine about somebody else's presence on this planet. Personally, I've gotten a paycheck for over a decade predominantly because I know how to operate a Windows computer. That wasn't something I learned in college by the way. Taught myself. Frankly I wish I could make MORE money, but I'm thankful I still have a roof over my head. So it's not that I hate Bill or love him. I just owe him a belated and perhaps mildly reluctant 'thank you.' I bet more than a few of you do too.

His charity work hasn't done jack for me, that I know of, but his work has done for computing what Henry Ford's efforts did for the travel industry, for better or for worse.
posted by ZachsMind at 5:48 PM on June 16, 2006


I just owe him a belated and perhaps mildly reluctant 'thank you.' I bet more than a few of you do too.

Ernest kudos to your autodidactic self. However, we don't want to get into a discussion of the man's personal role in technological development. That being said, do you suppose tech development would have floundered without MS, or without him personally? I don't, but I'll admit it's entirely speculative.
posted by evil holiday magic at 6:39 PM on June 16, 2006


His charity work hasn't done jack for me

Yeah, it's more important that Bill Gates gives you a free computer than he helps people in Botswana with AIDS.

Get a job, slacker.
posted by caddis at 6:56 PM on June 16, 2006


Yeah, and that's made particularly easy when Gates' critics feel free to invent facts.

You fail to acknowledge the reality that a robber baron is giving away ill-gotten gains for tax benefits and increased market share, you can't defend your position with any evidence whatsoever, and you have the gall to say I'm the one "inventing facts". What an ass. Whatever.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:43 PM on June 16, 2006


Christ.

You're the one who made a completely unsupported accusation against a charitable organization that's doing real good in the world, and when I call you on it, you link to the few weak-ass tenuous shit links that Google manages to pull up for you, none of which actually supports your position in any way whatsoever. Evidence!? You make a claim, I say I don't buy it, and now you're asking for evidence?! You're the one making an accusation, let's see some real evidence on your part, instead of the runny diarrhea you've been able to pull up so far.

You're the ass here.
posted by mr_roboto at 1:11 AM on June 17, 2006


Shit, I'm sorry about that.

I wish I could take back the attitude from that last comment; it stinks quite a bit of the anonymous internet fuckwad.

Still, man, I don't think the Gates Foundation stipulates that projects it funds have to use Microsoft products.
posted by mr_roboto at 1:32 AM on June 17, 2006


By the way, I'm posting all this from a Linux box :)

Except for that 1:11 AM PST comment, which was posted from a Powerbook. I guess Macs make me angry.
posted by mr_roboto at 1:40 AM on June 17, 2006


Sorry ZachsMind, I should have read your whole comment.
posted by caddis at 6:38 AM on June 17, 2006


This has been an interesting read. Thanks particularly to Carmen. This is certainly a complex issue on several fronts.

I believe kudos also goes to Bill Gates snr. in addition to Melinda, in terms of running/helping with the foundation.
posted by peacay at 7:05 AM on June 18, 2006


Warren Buffet gives away 85% of fortune, mostly to the Gates Foundation
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 4:44 PM on June 25, 2006


« Older Suzanne Swift,...  |  Youtubefilter:... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments