Gates farewell
January 7, 2008 10:09 AM   Subscribe

In a quite funny video, Bill Gates looks for the next big thing after retirement with help from Jon Stewart, Jay Z, Bono, George Clooney, and others; while Letterman earlier gave his own tribute. Gates is retiring to spend more time on his massive charity, which is already helping push child mortality to an all-time low, despite some controversy with its for-profit investments.
posted by blahblahblah (156 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
Compared to what Gates *could* do with his money, he hasn't accomplished jack.

I appreciate all positive efforts, but he could donate 99% of his fortune and still be fantastically wealthy, far better off than any of us could ever aspire to be. It just feels like he's trying to put a nice face on what's essentially a pretty hollow and half-hearted effort.
posted by SaintCynr at 10:14 AM on January 7, 2008


MetaFilter user labels The Gates Foundation a "pretty hollow and half-hearted effort."
posted by xmutex at 10:22 AM on January 7, 2008 [7 favorites]


Next up: the Metafilter Sleuth Squad outs Gates as a sockpuppet.
posted by item at 10:25 AM on January 7, 2008


Gates is retiring to spend more time on his massive charity, which is already helping push child mortality to an all-time low

The NYT article you link to does not connect the Gates Foundation with an effect on child mortality rates. Can you please clarify?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:31 AM on January 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


I like threads like this. It’s always interesting to read why a charity is actually evil. Bill Gates could save a kitten from drowning and somehow it’d still be a Bad Thing. Not even buying ice cream sundaes for every child in Africa will make up for Vista.

Don’t disappoint me, folks.
posted by bondcliff at 10:34 AM on January 7, 2008 [7 favorites]


Compared to what Gates *could* do with his money, he hasn't accomplished jack.

Beautiful.
posted by kbanas at 10:37 AM on January 7, 2008


And by beautiful, I mean stupid.
posted by kbanas at 10:38 AM on January 7, 2008 [14 favorites]


You see, the kitten carries toxoplasmosis, which will infect a small boy who goes on to be a sociopath.

Also, most children in Africa are lactose intolerant, so that's just being cruel.
posted by elwoodwiles at 10:38 AM on January 7, 2008


Compared to what Gates *could* do with his money, he hasn't accomplished jack.

Well, he could retire in order to work on the charity full time. Oh, wait....
posted by smackfu at 10:38 AM on January 7, 2008 [4 favorites]


Is the video ending in mid-Jon Stewart sentence for anyone else?
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 10:39 AM on January 7, 2008


I keep trying to write a response to you, SaintCynr, but I just fucking can't. Your comment is that unbelievable. You must be trolling, or you are so completely clueless that I feel sorry for you. Which is it?
posted by tracert at 10:39 AM on January 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


The charity isn't the bad thing. The straight-up theft of hundreds of billions of dollars using monopoly power and slowly giving away a small portion of those stolen hundreds of billions is the bad thing.
posted by aerotive at 10:39 AM on January 7, 2008


The straight-up theft of hundreds of billions of dollars

Care to elaborate, or do you just like throwing that kind of claim out there and letting it sail?
posted by xmutex at 10:42 AM on January 7, 2008


Serotive has a point... But I'd say giving away a small portion of his illegally-gotten funds is still better than not doing that at all, and even acknowledging that, you can't deny that the charity on its own terms is a strong force for good.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 10:42 AM on January 7, 2008


Is it just me or is this a link to a blog post with a link to a blog post with a link to a video which says "404"?

In other words, does someone have a functional direct link?
posted by Anything at 10:43 AM on January 7, 2008


It's just you. It's a link to a blog post with a video. Is your ad filter hiding the video or something?
posted by smackfu at 10:44 AM on January 7, 2008


SaintCynr: "Compared to what Gates *could* do with his money, he hasn't accomplished jack."

Oh for Pete's sake. I'm surely no member of the Bill Gates Fan Club, but this guy could have donated both his kidneys, taken a bullet for the Pope, and served ten years with the Peace Corps. People would still say he hadn't done enough.

It's plainly obvious he's doing this more cuz it makes his wife happy than any intrinsic heartfelt duty of dedication to humanity, but be thankful he's doing it and get off his back. He owes nothing to no one. Heck if I were him I'd be playing City of Heroes 24/7 until I dropped and to hell with any charities.

At least Gates puts his money where his mouth is.
posted by ZachsMind at 10:45 AM on January 7, 2008 [4 favorites]


The NYT article you link to does not connect the Gates Foundation with an effect on child mortality rates.

In fact, it pretty clearly says there's no relationship, because the date ranges don't overlap... the study is old, with pre 2004 data.
posted by smackfu at 10:47 AM on January 7, 2008


The trouble was with JavaScript having been disabled; nevermind.
posted by Anything at 10:47 AM on January 7, 2008


So what if he isn't giving away all of his billions now. It isn't like they are sitting in a big money bin they are accumulating interest. So say he gave away all the money now, he would be able to manage where the money goes less effictively and lose some of its benefits. This it wouldn't be good to give away more but he isn't squandering his money in ways that don't help people and he isn't giving his fortune to his kin to try and create a Gates dynasty. He says he will by the time he dies or soon after given away the vast majority of his fortune. I begrudge him nothing as far as charity goes.
posted by I Foody at 10:47 AM on January 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


1. People think Microsoft is Bad.
2. A statement is made about Microsoft that reinforces the idea that it is Bad.
Ergo: People will believe the statement, because it reinforces their belief that Microsoft is Bad.
posted by DoctorFedora at 10:48 AM on January 7, 2008


1. People think Microsoft is Bad.
2. A statement is made about Microsoft that reinforces the idea that it is Bad.
Ergo: People will believe the statement, because it reinforces their belief that Microsoft is Bad.


Right, cause there's no outside evidence that they repeatedly and intentionally broke the law to screw their customers. (sigh).
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 10:50 AM on January 7, 2008


(as a side note, amuses me that my link above was the top result on Google for the phrase "illegal monopolistic practices")
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 10:50 AM on January 7, 2008


Is the video ending in mid-Jon Stewart sentence for anyone else?

I came in here to ask the same thing.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:51 AM on January 7, 2008


Compared to what Gates *could* do with his money, he hasn't accomplished jack.

What he could do is *nothing*.
Compared to what most of us 'regular people' *could* do, are we better or worse than his effort (relatively speaking, of course).
posted by BozoBurgerBonanza at 10:54 AM on January 7, 2008


Seconding tracert 's comment. Give me a break, man.

Also, Gates as gone on record many times as saying that he will give away most of his money before he dies. Some of the things that he and Buffet are pushing in the charitable realm are quite amazing. And his charity is already having positive effects on infant mortality?

And you want to snark... Really? I mean, really?
posted by Cathedral at 10:55 AM on January 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Between 2000 and 2004, Bill Gates gave at least $29 billion to charity. His estimated current worth is $56 billion.

Four years. $29 billion.

The guy has three kids. He's 52 years old. With nothing compelling him to do so, he intends to give away almost all his wealth to the most important causes on the planet.

Bill Gates has done more good, as an individual, than any pope, prophet, king or saint in the history of mankind. And even if he was a ruthless, miserly, thieving businessman until the day he died, and then he gave away the money in his will, he would still be unimpeachable as a philanthropist.

If you think he's a crook, he's of the Robin Hood persuasion.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:56 AM on January 7, 2008 [17 favorites]


Is the video ending in mid-Jon Stewart sentence for anyone else?

Yes. Here is a longer version.
posted by smackfu at 10:56 AM on January 7, 2008


SaintCynr: I assume you posted your dig at Gates on one of those free laptops in the middle of Africa during the 10 minutes a day you take a break from ministering to the hungry. I mean, otherwise you'd be, like, hypocritical, and that couldn't be the case.
posted by Justinian at 10:58 AM on January 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


And what EMRJKC '94 said. I am just so speechless right now. Color me gobsmacked.
posted by Cathedral at 10:59 AM on January 7, 2008


Don’t disappoint me, folks.

You know what?

Instead of seeing apologia for Gatesloose defenses of Microsoft because of the money he throws around, I would like to see rational, peer-reviewed studies about the mechanisms and effectiveness of his efforts.

In The Lancet, Anne-Emanuelle Birn offers a criticism of the approach taken by the Gates Foundation, namely that it focuses on "narrowly conceived understanding of health as the product of technical interventions divorced from economic, social, and political contexts." For example, chasing a myopic focus on vaccine trials without also looking at infrastructure improvements (like, electricity and sanitation) that would have a multiplier effect on general health, with a longer term reach.

Her criticism sums up why it is important to call Bill Gates on his past: "At the most ambitious level, the Gates Foundation could take on its concern for poor health as an impediment to international development by addressing “inhverently global health issues”50 relating to international trade, finance, and economic exploitation... There is a certain irony in asking Gates—whose wealth was amassed through the current economic system—to play a part in reforming that very system." [emph. added]

It is valid and important to call Gates on using for-profit mechanisms to further his philanthropy, when the economic, social and political conditions that more or less help maintain those for-profit measures have also done much to help put and keep third-world countries in a third-world condition in the first place.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:59 AM on January 7, 2008 [14 favorites]


blahblahblah, I'll ask again: The NYT article you link to does not connect the Gates Foundation with an effect on child mortality rates. Can you please clarify?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:01 AM on January 7, 2008


Someone forgot they weren't on Slashdot?
posted by chunking express at 11:01 AM on January 7, 2008


Bill Gates has done more good, as an individual, than any pope, prophet, king or saint in the history of mankind.

I'm glad he's doing something good with his ill-gotten gains, even if he's doing it to be remembered for how he spent his money rather than how he made it, but give me a fucking break.
posted by Scoo at 11:04 AM on January 7, 2008 [5 favorites]


Big pimpin', I'm Bill G, Big pimpin', yeah you know me.

And a new internet craze was born; the song round the world twice before breaking into the top 40, but from there, there was no stopping it. Quickly being remixed by Mocean, M.I.A. and finally Tricky, it gave Bill Gates his first real taste of life in the spotlight.

His craving and desire for bigger and more quickly turned dark though, as he performed wilder and more dangerous stunts to keep on the magazine covers; from his exploits with Johnny Knoxville, to his much criticized and quickly canceled show with Brittney and Paris, it was only after he hit rock bottom; and was arrested for getting in a fight with Robert Downey Jr, and Nick Nolte that destroyed the Whisky a Go Go that Bill sought help.

After cleaning up, both spiritually and physically, he took a quiet, perfunctory job with a charitable organization in the hopes that his one time celebrity could be put to a better use helping those unfortunates among us.

Next on Behind the Music, a look at the life and times of Steve Wozniak, a thug ganster rapper who turned his love for tits and Tanqueray into a billion dollar merchandise industry.
posted by quin at 11:05 AM on January 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's not like outdoing the pope is hard. And he hasn't killed anyone, so he's got a leg up on kings. Prophets are just fucking worthless, so he has them beat too. Saints... well, saints are usually do-gooders who have some "miracle" foisted on them. Regardless, it's hard to beat a saint.
posted by smackfu at 11:07 AM on January 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's actually pretty easy to beat a saint. I mean, that's what most of them got "saint" status for, innit?

(FUN FACT: growing up Catholic entails a lot of learning how saints died, not what they did that was of any value during their lives)
posted by DoctorFedora at 11:10 AM on January 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


Cathedral: Also, Gates as gone on record many times as saying that he will give away most of his money before he dies. Some of the things that he and Buffet are pushing in the charitable realm are quite amazing. And his charity is already having positive effects on infant mortality?

And you want to snark... Really? I mean, really?
Well, what do you expect from this crowd? The closest any of these people have come to impacting infant mortality was withholding from jerking off every waking hour.
East Manitoba I'm not typing the rest out: Bill Gates has done more good, as an individual, than any pope, prophet, king or saint in the history of mankind. And even if he was a ruthless, miserly, thieving businessman until the day he died, and then he gave away the money in his will, he would still be unimpeachable as a philanthropist.
This is true... maybe not any person, but certainly more than far most, including con artists like Mother Teresa et al. Gates would still be the richest person in the world if he didn't give his money away, but unlike the other insanely rich little boys atop the Forbes lists, he's actually done something meaningful and measurable other than compete, Ellison-style, for "Number 1!". Lives are being saved, and the NY Time article does reinforce this, suggesting that the impact from Gates and others aren't even included, and that the benefits will be even more dramatic in the next survey.

But you assclowns would rather bash the OLPC and Gates than to do anything positive yourselves.
Scoo: I'm glad he's doing something good with his ill-gotten gains, even if he's doing it to be remembered for how he spent his money rather than how he made it, but give me a fucking break.
That's some mind-reading prowess you got there, Scoo. But you're probably right- for example, I myself am sure that Martin Luther King, Jr. was only doing the whole "betterment of the rights of the downtrodden" schtick to get some first-class pussy. And Gandhi? He was just cashing in on the whole "heroin chic" thing, in order to further his modeling career- like he actually cared about the plight of other human beings? Ha, don't make me laugh. Yeah, you and me Scoo- we both know that since we have never felt an ounce of empathy ourselves for another living thing, surely it's impossible for anyone else to be sincere!
posted by hincandenza at 11:11 AM on January 7, 2008 [10 favorites]


Whether you think it was immoral how he gained his fortune or not, and whether or not you believe Microsoft rapes the rest of the world during their profit-making, ya gotta give the man props for planning on giving away virtually everything he's made before he dies, and using it for great causes.

I mean, okay, let's say Joe Schmoe got royally ripped off buying Windows XP, still, would the world have been better off with Joe Schmoe using that money to buy coffee, beer and pizza or is the world better off with that money (eventually) being used to fight malaria and save kids and whatnot? His philanthropy seems pretty unambiguously good to me, even if it's his wife that's cajoled him into the do-gooder bizness. I can pretty much guarantee you that if I hadn't purchased XP, that money would likely not ever have gone to any good cause, or at least not any cause that'd benefit anyone but me.
posted by jamstigator at 11:13 AM on January 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


There are way cheaper ways to get your legacy enhanced. What you did to earn your money is only remembered for 20-40 years or so. You just need to donate to some institution that is prominent and will take your name and will last longer than that. Museums are particularly good. Who knows what Solomon Guggenheim did in his life? He must have been a good guy though, to have all those museums named after him.
posted by smackfu at 11:18 AM on January 7, 2008


Even if the intent behind the philantropy consists of "pleasing his wife" and "looking good", at least the money is being doled out. You'd be hard pressed to find a more generous source of charity; the ends justify the means in this case.
posted by Phire at 11:22 AM on January 7, 2008


Really, what's the worst thing Microsoft has done? Put Netscape and RealNetworks out of business? Release Windows 98?

I mean, "monopolistic business practices" are just rich people cheating other rich people, right? I just have a hard time getting worked up about it.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:23 AM on January 7, 2008


Metafilter: withholding from jerking off every waking hour.

Always wanted to do one of those.

Every gift to charity helps someone, and I can't believe that anyone is begrudging Gates' generosity because he doesn't give away every last cent he owns. If you stop to think that this billionaire may also be influencing other billionaires, or even others in the technology fields, to help those less fortunate than themselves, then his contributions are even more worthy of our respect.
posted by misha at 11:25 AM on January 7, 2008


I think it's pretty ridiculous to claim that gates is somehow not being generous enough with his money.

He's given away a Ton of money.
posted by delmoi at 11:29 AM on January 7, 2008


Because of the charity foundation Bill Gates has in his and his wife's name, I've been more than once vilified for criticizing Bill's racket with Microsoft. Here's a warning for those of you who wish to credibly defend the Gates' charity from accusations of its primary motivation being a PR whitewash: don't make the cynics' point for them by holding Bill Gates above criticism now that he's giving away his money, much of which is dirty.
posted by Anything at 11:34 AM on January 7, 2008


Eh, it's not that dirty. He's not selling guns or landmines or anything really bad. It's just computer software.
posted by smackfu at 11:38 AM on January 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


Microsoft, for all the tempest it raises among those who desperately love the power of a comand line and the infinity just behind it, simply can't be placed in the same league as even the mildest industrial criminal.

I'm waiting for those of you who have benefitted from the Carnegie robber-barony to sally forth and renounce all his good deeds since he, personally, was a monopolistic strike-breaking tyrant and his company an unquestionable source of evil in America. The real kind, not the kind that forces you to buy software you don't think you should need so you can play Halo or track changes when editing a document.

Sure, I feel that the B&MGF should probably pull their money out of whatever index fund has the specific oil companies mentioned in the article, or however many steps removed it is. And, probably, every time they get informed of such a thing they should do so again. BUT for as much as the health issues are presented as causal, the numbers aren't available for there to be proof that the oil company in question is responsible. Yes, I think it probably is but that doesn't mean it's responsible from a money-management perspective to switch from an investment with one level of yield to a different, potentially lower-yield investment -- not without a factual basis as opposed to an opinion basis. Further, I would suggest anyone quick to judge such an investment take a good look at their 401k or other investments to see how the environmental, social, political, and financial report cards of the nameless conglomerates compare to your ideals, much less might counteract your charitable donations.
posted by abulafa at 11:41 AM on January 7, 2008 [3 favorites]


I thought the video sucked, personally. It seemed like Billy G was just using his cash to buy tons of celebrity appearances, and lacked any sort of creativity.

This one was better.
posted by patr1ck at 11:41 AM on January 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


...of the nameless conglomerates with which your money is invested compare to your ideals....

Dammit.
posted by abulafa at 11:43 AM on January 7, 2008


Carnegie, personally, was a monopolistic strike-breaking tyrant and his company an unquestionable source of evil in America.
posted by Anything at 11:44 AM on January 7, 2008


Bill Gates has done more good, as an individual, than any pope, prophet, king or saint in the history of mankind.

You forgot to mention politicians.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 11:45 AM on January 7, 2008


...now that he's giving away his money, much of which is dirty...

The dude sells Windows and Microsoft Office. I don't care just how awesome his monoply was, it's not like he's trafficking in guns. People need to get a grip. He can be a dick and still donate a lot of money.
posted by chunking express at 11:47 AM on January 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


"There's an old joke that says that when news got out that Jesus walked across the surface of the Sea of Galilee in a storm, met his disciples who were struggling in a boat and then even rescued one of them from drowning, the headlines the next day didn't read 'Jesus Walks On Water', but read in large type 'Jesus Can't Swim!'
(via)

Sorta like "Billionnaire Gives Away Billions--A Great Man" vs. "Billionaire Keeps Billions to Self-A Self Promoting Evil Bastard"
posted by BozoBurgerBonanza at 11:51 AM on January 7, 2008 [3 favorites]


I would like to see rational, peer-reviewed studies about the mechanisms and effectiveness of his efforts.

I bet this company would be up to the task!
posted by jmd82 at 11:52 AM on January 7, 2008


Microsoft's assault on open standards and free software has cost, and keeps costing, very real money to every person, organization and government that uses any kind of software. A lot of that money would have found its way to various kinds of public good, including vaccinations. It's not just Joe Schmoe and his gaming PC.
posted by Anything at 11:54 AM on January 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Good god! He's right! Linux, OGG Vorbis, H.264, and so forth simply don't exist!

And to think, all of that money that the average American spends on charity, wasted on software.
posted by DoctorFedora at 11:57 AM on January 7, 2008


I'll ask again: The NYT article you link to does not connect the Gates Foundation with an effect on child mortality rates. Can you please clarify?

Sorry about that, it does just talk about expected future benefits, not current with the study, though they are being credited with "saving millions of lives" through immunization to date. But, Blazecock, part of what makes the Foundation interesting is, that unlike many other charities, they are seeking to build good peer-reviewed feedback mechanisms. They are even launching new open access journals. The whole concept of the Foundation is that they are going to try to learn from their mistakes and successes.

Some pretty impressive contributions: Over $1.5B to the United Negro College Fund, over $250M for malaria research, etc. And they intend to spend the entire endowment within a decade or so after Bill's death. That is pretty impressive.
posted by blahblahblah at 11:59 AM on January 7, 2008


Pretty funny.

sorry that I don't join in the moralism discussion that for some reason seems to dominate every thread on metafilter

Even Al Gore is in it.
On youtube is a version that continues where the gawker video with me stopped during the part with Jon Stewart.
posted by jouke at 11:59 AM on January 7, 2008


Blazecock: I think this is the quote he's referring to from that NYT article:
Interestingly, Unicef officials said, the new estimate comes from household surveys done in 2005 or earlier, so they barely reflect the huge influx of money that has poured into third world health in the last few years from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; the Gates Foundation; and the Bush administration’s twin programs to fight AIDS and malaria. For that reason, the next five-year survey should show even greater improvement, they said.
So essentially Unicef is saying they expect the contributions from several organizations including the Gates Foundation to contribute to further decline in the already all-time-low child mortality rate. So blahblahblah's statement that the Gates foundation is helping to lower child-mortality is not false.
posted by ruthsarian at 12:02 PM on January 7, 2008


"with me" is meant to mean "when I watched it"
posted by jouke at 12:02 PM on January 7, 2008


That's some mind-reading prowess you got there, Scoo.

Actually it was an educated guess, and I stand by it.

Yeah, you and me Scoo- we both know that since we have never felt an ounce of empathy ourselves for another living thing, surely it's impossible for anyone else to be sincere!

Now who's mind reading? Embrace coherence!

It's MLK and Ghandi who first popped in to my head while calling out East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 mind-bending hyperbole. Again:

Bill Gates has done more good, as an individual, than any pope, prophet, king or saint in the history of mankind.

Really? Better than Jonas Salk? Louis Pasteur? Hell, I'd argue Tim Berners-Lee has done more to advance the species than Gates has.
posted by Scoo at 12:09 PM on January 7, 2008


I wish I could deterministically predict the path of monies spent on one thing in a subjective alternate history...

Wait, I can.

After IBM crushed a tiny upstart their hegemony was secured for a few more years until the downward spiral of their Jet Age business practices put them at odds with a little-known company called Sun Microsystems. Sun's innovative Personal Computer Leasing program delivers a SPARCstation to your door. All you need to do is refill its gasoline tank every few days and it will give you years of worry-free development in the ground-breaking Solaris Environment where you will write your own banking and billing programs and may choose to dabble in the cutting-edge world of numerical grid processing or word-coding with Sun's proprietary JustLikePaper technology! Don't write letters this year, compose grahical picture messages which are printed at a centralized Sun Shared Computing Megacenter and shipped with their own custom SPARCreader - barely the size of a suitcase!


It would have been a Golden Age, truly.
posted by abulafa at 12:10 PM on January 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


DoctorFedora, given your illiterate response, I suppose some of the frustrated effort that schools have spent with virus-infected Microsoft networks could've been better placed in teaching English. Read again; I was not just talking about the average American.
posted by Anything at 12:14 PM on January 7, 2008


What you did to earn your money is only remembered for 20-40 years or so.

Not necessarily. Most people know what the Rockefellers, Hearst, Stanford, And yes Carnegie etc. did to get their loot.

Regarding Gates, I was one of the loud vocal naysayers before he started giving away truckfuls of cash to good causes and vowing he'd give away the rest of it before checking out. That shut me up pretty quick.
posted by Devils Slide at 12:14 PM on January 7, 2008


Really? Better than Jonas Salk? Louis Pasteur? Hell, I'd argue Tim Berners-Lee has done more to advance the species than Gates has.

I agree. Pope Salk, Emperor Pasteur and The Munificent Tim, Seer And Sage Of The Ever-Burning-Lea [PBUH] are all excellent counterexamples.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 12:17 PM on January 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


I didn't find Tim (PBUH), he found me!
posted by Scoo at 12:29 PM on January 7, 2008


Apologies if this has already been covered, but has anyone pointed out that the Gates farewell is a blatant yet somewhat inferior rip-off of an earlier product?

I know, they rewrote it from scratch, but it clearly copies the look and feel of the original.

Also, Al Gore.
posted by bicyclefish at 12:38 PM on January 7, 2008


Most people know what the Rockefellers, Hearst, Stanford, And yes Carnegie etc. did to get their loot.

For low values of most.
posted by smackfu at 12:40 PM on January 7, 2008


I think you'll find that Bill Gates' impetus to give away almost all of his fortune (which I believe is the aim) comes from the long time desire of his father William Gates Sr, who, from what I've read of the Gates' family, has always believed strongly in responsible philanthropy.

"His mother and I always pushed a little," said Gates Sr. Like Mary Gates, Gates Sr. has long been involved in philanthropy -- ever since "I first gave a nickel to the Salvation Army man," he joked.
posted by Duug at 12:41 PM on January 7, 2008


My wife sent me this video earlier today -- pretty funny stuff and always amusing to see Bill make fun of himself.

Re: the Foundation -- said wife works there. The experience so far has been eye opening for us both, with regard to the amount of money and time being invested by the organization, across such a broad range of issues. The Foundation has its shortcomings, I'm sure, but one of the strengths seems to be the willingness to address those shortcomings and improve upon them over time.

The comment upthread that described a lack of attention on infrastructure and development isn't accurate, I think -- there's a Global Development department that focuses on exactly these issues. Water quality, sanitation, education -- they're all part of the overall package and go hand in hand with parasite and vector control when it comes to improving the quality of life for the target area.

Which is to say, SaintCynr is an asshat.
posted by Pantengliopoli at 12:43 PM on January 7, 2008 [5 favorites]


He's also out to restore the Estate Tax! Does his evil know no bounds?
posted by juiceCake at 12:55 PM on January 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


The Letterman vid was hilarious.
posted by dobbs at 12:55 PM on January 7, 2008


He's also out to restore the Estate Tax! Does his evil know no bounds?

How's SaintCynr going to do that? Diabolical!
posted by Pantengliopoli at 12:58 PM on January 7, 2008


Sorry, Bill Gates is also out to restore the Estate Tax! Does his evil know no bounds?
posted by juiceCake at 12:59 PM on January 7, 2008


For the naysayers:

Think about what Richard Mellon Scaife does with his fortune.
posted by uri at 1:00 PM on January 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


MS bashing aside (and yes, I work at MS), I do find it interesting the level of vitriol people can escalate to about Microsoft. Both for and against... But I never thought I would see this level of outright knee-jerkery on Metafilter.

Yes, MS is a convicted monopolist, with all that implies. I don't see MS however out having striker's heads busted with pick handles. I don't see MS setting up company towns, running guns or drugs, or poisoning the planet (*). To read some of the responses here, you'd think that MS had done ALL of those things and more.

Regardless of everything that MS has done, and how much that taints or does not taint the Foundation's legacy - nobody else is doing as good a job as they do for the scale of the projects they take on. Most people won't even attempt. They also do it cost-effectively, and most importantly sustainably on a strategic level... a global level with a long-term focus. They're planning to be here for the next 100 years, and they're planning on continuing to ramp the spending up. When you take as a start the high bar they've set in philanthropy so far... the Foundation is nothing short of amazing.

* - I think the ecological effectiveness of the whole computing/IT ecosystem is beyond the scope of this discussion.
posted by Cathedral at 1:07 PM on January 7, 2008 [3 favorites]


I typed my response at a time when *I* wasn't being very charitable. I make mistakes. My apologies to anyone who was annoyed or offended. I know what I was going for, and I also know I failed to accurately communicate it. Ya'll were right to point out my error.

I've spent too long being poor. It sometimes leads to a real crappy outlook on the relationship between the haves and have nots. Mea Culpa.
posted by SaintCynr at 1:12 PM on January 7, 2008 [4 favorites]


If you think he's a crook, he's of the Robin Hood persuasion.

It's just a huge, huge equation to try and balance, is the thing. Robin Hood works so well as a character because he's sympathetic and because it's presumed that he does no meaningful damage to anyone worth caring about when he's doing his thing.

Here, we've got a Robin Hood who steals from the middle- and upper-classes and tech competitors, and potentially seriously undermines on the long-ish term aspects of the maturity and quality of the software that is defining how the still-brand-new, world-changing event horizon that is computing develops...to give to the poor. It's not exactly pat.
posted by cortex at 1:14 PM on January 7, 2008


Thanks for coming back, SaintCynr. It's big of you to say that.
posted by cortex at 1:15 PM on January 7, 2008


What Cortex said. Thanks for the clarification. :)
posted by Cathedral at 1:22 PM on January 7, 2008


Yup, good on ya SaintCynr -- sorry for the jabs. Touched a nerve, you did.
posted by Pantengliopoli at 1:25 PM on January 7, 2008


Well, compared to Carlos Slim, the richest man on the world, Bill Gates is a cute little kitten. Slim's view on Gates and Buffet: They are playing Santa Claus. That is no way to solve poverty.

Slims solution for helping the poor: Open huge hospitals in Mexican border towns to offer cheap healthcare to Americans, where cheap = 10 times more than what normal Mexicans can pay, making him richest than himself (yes, he is aiming for being number one and number two on the Forbes list).

Compared to anyone else, Gates is still an asshole and Microsoft sucks, but I still believe that curing diarrhea in a few thousand kids more than makes up for Vista. As long as those kids grow up to use Open Source, and it is not all part of an evil plan to expand the pool of potential MS software users.
posted by Dr. Curare at 1:29 PM on January 7, 2008


We might as well get threaded discussion now, since we are now officially Slashdot, with all the kneejerk assholery that implies.
posted by Artw at 1:34 PM on January 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


+1 Karma bonus
posted by smackfu at 1:41 PM on January 7, 2008


"As long as those kids grow up to use Open Source, and it is not all part of an evil plan to expand the pool of potential MS software users."

... 'Cause better they should DIE than grow up to be MS software users.

I give the fuck up. *puts head in hands*
posted by Cathedral at 1:47 PM on January 7, 2008


The Gates video was about twice as long as it should have been; it drug the joke out waaaayyy too much.

As others have said, the Clinton's Last Days video was way better.
posted by mrbill at 1:55 PM on January 7, 2008


cortex: Here, we've got a Robin Hood who steals from the middle- and upper-classes and tech competitors, and potentially seriously undermines on the long-ish term aspects of the maturity and quality of the software that is defining how the still-brand-new, world-changing event horizon that is computing develops...to give to the poor. It's not exactly pat.

I shed no tears for IBM. What I highlighted there is absolutely the more important aspect in this issue, but I'd like to emphasize that it's not just some web2.0 geek fantasies getting crippled that I'm beefing with here, it's the file format interoperability nightmares and spam-sending, DOS-attacking IE&Outlook enabled botnets and all other computer problems that hurt, as I said, every person and institution that relies on computers, including millions of people who work in public service all around the world; problems that could have been negligible given true competition and open standards, both which Microsoft has stifled with their largely unpunished (in America, at least) crimes.

This is an issue that's a lot harder to put a finger on than a smiling, vaccinated African child, but the damage is real and ongoing. Bill Gates carries quite a bit of the blame, but judging from the comments here that downplay his transgressions, his trip to the Bonosphere has paid off nicely.
posted by Anything at 1:57 PM on January 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


ArtW speaks truth.
posted by sfts2 at 1:59 PM on January 7, 2008


This is an issue that's a lot harder to put a finger on than a smiling, vaccinated African child

And by this I do not intend to weigh the damage of his crimes against the benefit of his charity, but I'm referring to the lack of immediate emotional impact of the former.
posted by Anything at 2:06 PM on January 7, 2008


As others have said, the Clinton's Last Days video was way better.

Interesting, I thought the Clinton video was the one that dragged. Which is funny because I remember it being better when it was new, maybe because he was still President and had the "dignity of the office" and such.
posted by smackfu at 2:09 PM on January 7, 2008


Bill Gates has done more good, as an individual, than any pope, prophet, king or saint in the history of mankind.

East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94, the above statement would have to be one of the stupidest statements ever spoken in the history of mankind.

Get. a. clue.
posted by survivorman at 2:10 PM on January 7, 2008


Hey survivorman... Something about, "note: Help maintain a healthy, respectful discussion by focusing comments on the issues, topics, and facts at hand—not at other members of the site." As opposed to, "Get. a. clue.", can we get your nominees?
posted by Cathedral at 2:19 PM on January 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


I called him out on his rediculous comment. I was perfectly on topic.
posted by survivorman at 2:31 PM on January 7, 2008


Worse than my spelling even.
posted by survivorman at 2:32 PM on January 7, 2008


abulafa writes "It would have been a Golden Age, truly."

OK, troll. You obviously want some feedback ...

That's just silly. Generally, MS software sucks, but so does most software. Other companies would have been perfectly capable and ready to fulfill the need that MS filled. The reason that many people are unhappy with MS is that their products are generally mediocre, on top of the fact that they often try to dominate the market in illegal ways, making the possibility of competition for their crappy products difficult if not impossible. They also outright stole all their good ideas. The reason I personally hate MS is that I have to clean up their mess in my job - infected machines, buggy software, etc. It's substandard practices which lead to this. I wouldn't expect Sun would do any better, but then again, they never really got going on that side of things. Have you ever run Windows 1.0? But why Sun? Have you ever run a Mac? My job would be far easier if Macs were the dominant personal computer. Most of our customers would be happier, too (I know this due to the reactions people have when they switch). They are built smarter, to be more secure and more reliable.

Anyway, beside the point, Gates has the potential to do great things with his charity, and it appears that he is taking it seriously and methodically and asking for a lot of advice. I wish he had done the same with his software.
posted by krinklyfig at 2:32 PM on January 7, 2008


Anything writes "it's the file format interoperability nightmares and spam-sending, DOS-attacking IE&Outlook enabled botnets and all other computer problems that hurt, as I said, every person and institution that relies on computers, including millions of people who work in public service all around the world; problems that could have been negligible given true competition and open standards, both which Microsoft has stifled with their largely unpunished (in America, at least) crimes."

Yes, and don't forget all that costs money do deal with. A hell of a lot of money. Completely wasted productivity and money best spent elsewhere. It's like fixing a leaky dam over and over with silly putty made of pure gold. It doesn't work for long; it just costs a hell of a lot.
posted by krinklyfig at 2:36 PM on January 7, 2008


There's no spam on unix machines.
posted by smackfu at 2:58 PM on January 7, 2008


Or rootkits...
posted by Artw at 3:02 PM on January 7, 2008


I just like that buried in this discussion is a sentence with the words "Vista" and "Diahrrea" in it.
posted by jscott at 3:03 PM on January 7, 2008


There's no spam on unix machines.

How clever, smackfu. No, of course there is spam on unix machines, and no less thanks to

spam-sending, DOS-attacking IE&Outlook enabled botnets

Microsoft hurts even those who don't directly use their products. You'd have figured that out if you had spent a tiny moment parsing what I said.

I'm not being unreasonable here. There's no reason to go through the struggle of trying to defend Microsoft's every action, unless, of course, you've decided to ignore my warning above:

Because of the charity foundation Bill Gates has in his and his wife's name, I've been more than once vilified for criticizing Bill's racket with Microsoft. Here's a warning for those of you who wish to credibly defend the Gates' charity from accusations of its primary motivation being a PR whitewash: don't make the cynics' point for them by holding Bill Gates above criticism now that he's giving away his money, much of which is dirty.
posted by Anything at 3:12 PM on January 7, 2008


I use a mix of open source and commercial software, some from Microsoft. I see people in the field making choices every day, between open source and commercial for servers for example. The choice is theirs, not Microsoft's.

We also spend a lot of time configuring open source software, and troubleshooting problems that arise, and dealing with security issues in PHP, etc.

I blame no one.
posted by juiceCake at 3:22 PM on January 7, 2008


I can safely say that throughout my life, I've never intentionally (and/or directly) given so much as a single penny to Microsoft. When I've used their software, it was pre-installed, demo, or pirated. Any hardware was hand-me-downs or part of a giveaway/goodie-bag. While I try not to be an all-out fanboy for any corporations - I do have a severe distaste for MS products.

Personally, I've yet to see a product they've made that made me go "hey, this is very well-designed and user-friendly" (this includes the X-Box & its 360 counterpart, of which I don't use but my roommate has had 2 of each over the past 3 years to replace them as they get bricked from regular & approved usage). Even in looking for an apartment these past few weeks, one site I visit makes use of MS Live Earth imagery for aerial shots but... they don't show up in every browser. I'd love to know how a company fucks up embedded images. Leave it to Microsoft to find a way.

All of this aside - I firmly believe that Bill Gates has his heart in the right place. If I'd known that giving MS money over the years would lead to a possibly better world for all due to his philanthropic efforts, I might have done so (begrudgingly, however). When I'm uber-rich, I hope to make that kind of impact.

While I wanted to write it off as a PR attempt, I was floored when he was asked in an interview about the "Product [RED]" campaign. The interviewer said something like "do you think it's shady for companies to be shilling designer products at consumers and giving pennies to research, as opposed to making a bigger effort towards having consumers donate directly?" and Gates got angry, saying that the end result was more money for research - that one shouldn't undermine others' efforts, and that they were doing a good thing, however little that might be in a relative sense.

Say what you want about MS and Gates - he's won me over.
posted by revmitcz at 3:23 PM on January 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


How clever, smackfu.
posted by smackfu at 3:23 PM on January 7, 2008


For the record, there may be short term gain to be had by lowering the infant mortality rate, but I believe it is actually a long-term harm. Of course, I'm one of those people that believe we have finite resources on this planet and that this means that more people will eventually lead to there not being enough food for anyone.

Except, of course, Bill Gates. Maybe that is his secret plan all along.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:24 PM on January 7, 2008


Well, Joey Malthus, had you considered that one of those kids that would have died of malaria eventually instead lives a long and healthy life? Then, with the early help of his OLPC machine in educating him, grows up to be a brilliant agricultural scientist that finds ways to generate immense amounts of staple food from scarce resources, or perfects cold fusion. Not every potential Einstein is white and European...
posted by hincandenza at 3:33 PM on January 7, 2008


Dude, just jump off a cliff. And try and get your friends to do the same. Then those kids dying of malaria can party like its 1999.
posted by chunking express at 3:46 PM on January 7, 2008


... perfects cold fusion

I think that's been done; I haven't seen a case of the jruns on here in quite some time.
posted by me & my monkey at 3:47 PM on January 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Fun! I've never been a troll before. I'm pretty sure I was addressing Anything's rosified view of the way things mighta-been if not for this one terrible mistake we all made. And make. Again and again. But, since we're tumbling toward slashdothood anyway...

/me looks around for a bridge to live under.

To answer your sort-of-rhetorical questiosn: yes, used them all. Developed on and for several of them. As noted above, most of the decisions as to what solution to use come from people who need to get things done, can put up with partial solutions, and have no tecno-political agenda. These are the C students (marks not languages) who make most of the decisions which send folks who are sure they know better into conniptions. Those are also the folks who represent the bulk of satisfied Microsoft customers; I choose not to second-guess or deride them because they seem to continue to have the resources to sustain a market, warts and all.

I'd like to know more about folks' ideas on the question of responsible investing I raised above - can you do it? What is the responsibility level of individuals, for-profit corporations, philanthropic foundations, etc. As for why BillGatesIsTheDevil... meh. Get back to me when the krinklyfig foundation donates homebrew linux boxes to all the neckbeards in Africa and permanently overturns the technarchical power strcuture for the betterment of the species using only LAMP and outrage.
posted by abulafa at 3:50 PM on January 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


I use a mix of open source and commercial software, some from Microsoft. I see people in the field making choices every day, between open source and commercial for servers for example. The choice is theirs, not Microsoft's.

Things are better than they used to be, but MS has fought against that progress, hard; one of the more recent examples being the Microsoft-Novell patent protection scare campaign.
posted by Anything at 3:53 PM on January 7, 2008


Hey check this out: you know what Bill Gates' solution for preventable diseases in Africa is? No? He's gonna close Africa - and then open it up again, just to see if THAT works! HA HA HA HA HA! Like a "help desk" - !

No wait - how about this: Bill Gates is retiring to work on his Charity, right? So now he's gonna write to some Nigerian guys, offering to give THEM $100 million if they just give HIM their bank account details! HA HA HA HA HA! You get it? It's like spam email an' shit - but in reverse! And he's SERIOUS!

OK this will fucking KILL you: Bill Gates, right? HA HA - no, wait a second. OK, so Bill Gates is going to help Africa get more food an' shit, OK? But what's the only kind of food he won't give them? Do you know? This is gonna fucking blow your fucking mind! He won't give 'em any APPLES! DO YOU EVEN FUCKING GET IT! THAT IS SO FUCKING FUNNY MAN! AND HE'S LOST HIS "JOBS"!!! HOLY FUCKING SHIT I FUCKING KILL ME MAN CAN YOU BELIEVE I WROTE LIKE THREE MOTHERFUCKING AWESOME JOKES JUST LIKE THAT???
posted by the quidnunc kid at 3:53 PM on January 7, 2008


abulafa writes "Get back to me when the krinklyfig foundation donates homebrew linux boxes to all the neckbeards in Africa and permanently overturns the technarchical power strcuture for the betterment of the species using only LAMP and outrage."

Are you trying to troll, or does it come naturally?
posted by krinklyfig at 3:57 PM on January 7, 2008


Bill Gates is better than you.

So is Oprah.

And Bono.
posted by tkchrist at 4:00 PM on January 7, 2008


BTW, abulafa, I use and own MS, BSD and Mac boxes. Not that it matters, but you seem to want to pick a fight.
posted by krinklyfig at 4:02 PM on January 7, 2008


I've... lost my ability to not derail this discussion apparently. Krinkly, dunno what I did to you but no, not trying to pick a fight. Perhaps my making-light-of-an-unresolvable disagreement is coming across wrong. And perhaps you didn't deserve that parting shot, so for that I apologize but... geezus dude.

How the hell do I get out of this derail?
posted by abulafa at 4:08 PM on January 7, 2008


Bill Gates is clearly evil... this money he's devoting to child mortality, it's simply so he can be evil to more people for longer.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:09 PM on January 7, 2008


abulafa, are you arguing that Microsoft hasn't practiced a harmful monopoly? Go tell that to the courts that have tried and convicted them. If that's not what you're arguing, then what exactly are you arguing?

Your innuendo about slashdottery is pretty weak, you being the troll so far.
posted by Anything at 4:22 PM on January 7, 2008


On non-preview, for what it's worth, no need to respond for my sake. Sorry for fueling the flame. I'm-a go eat and then sleep.
posted by Anything at 4:28 PM on January 7, 2008


I, um, apparently am unaware of some definition of 'troll.'

Innuendo is typically less direct. This is a discussion that belongs on slashdot, which is in large part why I stopped reading slashdot, so I'm really still hoping to maybe get off this dead horse and return to the broader-appeal questions raised upthread.

Let's take it to metamail if you want me to actually respond. If you're looking to just have a fight, well, then let's not.
posted by abulafa at 4:30 PM on January 7, 2008


One minor thing I want to preemptively clarify regarding my comment on what cortex said:

cortex: Here, we've got a Robin Hood who steals from the middle- and upper-classes and tech competitors, and potentially seriously undermines on the long-ish term aspects of the maturity and quality of the software that is defining how the still-brand-new, world-changing event horizon that is computing develops...to give to the poor. It's not exactly pat.

me: I shed no tears for IBM. What I highlighted there is absolutely the more important aspect in this issue, but I'd like to emphasize that it's not just some web2.0 geek fantasies getting crippled that I'm beefing with here [...]

I by no means think that cortex was only speaking of 'some web2.0 geek fantasies', but that it could be misread in such a limited way.

posted by Anything at 5:09 PM on January 7, 2008


No worries, I followed from the context.
posted by cortex at 5:13 PM on January 7, 2008


The batshitinsane is strong in this thread.

There is absolutely no way you can seriously and intellectually debate the net "good" of the Foundation's efforts versus the net "evil" of Microsoft's illegal business conduct and/or of software quality or "lack" of standards support. They aren't in the same ballpark, league, nor even the same fucking sport. (to paraphrase) If you think you can, I advise you to put down the keyboard and mouse - immediately - and go spend some time living in the world. You know: the real world where children starve, die of malaria... Those sorts of things.
posted by Cathedral at 5:57 PM on January 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


You mean the real world where tech support and drugs both cost money, where a charity can get their computers spambot-infested and their network blacklisted and have to pay through the nose to get the mess cleaned so they can lose money they would've used for a vaccine program? The real world where if you spend money, you cannot spend it again on another thing?
posted by Anything at 6:14 PM on January 7, 2008


I'm done. I can't argue with someone who has no sense of proportion. I think you would be hard, HARD pressed to argue that MS is a net "bad" for the IT industry, much less society as a whole, whereas the Foundation has clearly positively changed things on a global scale. And you might have noted, the IT industry as a whole has benefited the world as well.

Get a grip. Seriously.
posted by Cathedral at 6:17 PM on January 7, 2008


Things are better than they used to be, but MS has fought against that progress, hard; one of the more recent examples being the Microsoft-Novell patent protection scare campaign.
posted by Anything at 6:53 PM on January 7 [+] [!]


We'll see how that goes. I'm just saying that I see people making a choice and sometimes they choose Microsoft, despite the costs. It's their choice, not Microsoft. Sometimes they choose Apple, despite the costs, sometimes they choose open source, despite the costs, etc.

Before that, I worked with people who chose Sun and Silicon Graphics (a prime example of hubris and misdirection if there ever was one.) In each case, they had a choice, they made that choice, and it was theirs to make. Not Microsoft's.
posted by juiceCake at 6:23 PM on January 7, 2008


Props, but I'm still pirating Windows.

Maybe I'll donate the price of Windows to the charities.
posted by saysthis at 6:24 PM on January 7, 2008


where a charity can get their computers spambot-infested and their network blacklisted and have to pay through the nose to get the mess cleaned so they can lose money they would've used for a vaccine program?

Can you please give one example of this happening to a charity, ever? Or are we just throwing out hypothetical questions? In that case, how much are the charity's tech support guys getting paid to update xorg.conf files every time Ubuntu changes how they handle video card drivers?

I'm somewhat ambivalent towards Microsoft. But if $29 Billion is "PR Whitewash" for pre-installing Internet Explorer, I think I can give the guy a pass.
posted by Gary at 6:31 PM on January 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Žižek on the new philanthropy: Nobody has to be vile

Liberal communists love May 1968. What an explosion of youthful energy and creativity! How it shattered the bureaucratic order! What an impetus it gave to economic and social life after the political illusions dropped away! Those who were old enough were themselves protesting and fighting on the streets: now they have changed in order to change the world, to revolutionise our lives for real. Didn’t Marx say that all political upheavals were unimportant compared to the invention of the steam engine? And would Marx not have said today: what are all the protests against global capitalism in comparison with the internet?

Above all, liberal communists are true citizens of the world – good people who worry. They worry about populist fundamentalism and irresponsible greedy capitalist corporations. They see the ‘deeper causes’ of today’s problems: mass poverty and hopelessness breed fundamentalist terror. Their goal is not to earn money, but to change the world (and, as a by-product, make even more money). Bill Gates is already the single greatest benefactor in the history of humanity, displaying his love for his neighbours by giving hundreds of millions of dollars for education, the fight against hunger and malaria etc. The catch is that before you can give all this away you have to take it (or, as the liberal communists would put it, create it). In order to help people, the justification goes, you must have the means to do so, and experience – that is, recognition of the dismal failure of all centralised statist and collectivist approaches – teaches us that private enterprise is by far the most effective way. By regulating their business, taxing them excessively, the state is undermining the official goal of its own activity (to make life better for the majority, to help those in need).

posted by stammer at 7:41 PM on January 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


What I learned from The Amber Spyglass: Hell is a neverending metafilter post about you, and everyone is drunk.
posted by tehloki at 10:59 PM on January 7, 2008


Bill Gates has done more good, as an individual, than any pope, prophet, king or saint in the history of mankind
...
If you think he's a crook, he's of the Robin Hood persuasion.


My teeth hurt after reading that. Is this some new sort of bizarro reverse trolling, where instead of being an asshat, one writes something mortifyingly generous?

I have to second Blazecock Pileon's comment.

You reach a certain tax bracket, it's pretty hard to be ethical, no matter what. It's the nature of money in this system that obscene wealth relies on obscene poverty (or some analagous state within natural systems); extreme poverty is caused by extreme wealth. I resent Bill Gates' existence, full stop. Not because of Vista, but because no one has a right to that much material wealth.

No, he's not a gun runner. But nor is he a saint. He's a wealthy man sitting atop a shiny dung heap overlooking a sprawling salt plain of global human misery and environmental destruction, and putting him in a tepid bit of sketch comedy with his rich friends doesn't change that. There's no reason to attack him personally - true, he's not a dictator. But it's insanity to idolize him.

If people can be unconcerned with the context of his enormous wealth, I can certainly be unimpressed with the fact that an impossibly comfortable man has chosen in a sustained fit of hubris to give a percentage of that wealth to charity. The money ain't his in the first place.
posted by regicide is good for you at 11:23 PM on January 7, 2008 [3 favorites]


somehow i doubt gates really cares about philanthropy, it's probably his wife who's the driving force behind all this and it only really started around the time of the DOJ case against microsoft. MS software is directly responsible for billions of dollars in losses because of it's poor quality and they destroyed businesses by using their monopoly to 'cut off their air supply'. It doesn't look like it's just business for these people but personal. Lets not mention the MS tax as well.

hey, gates is giving away tons of money so he must be a swell guy.
posted by canned polar bear at 4:36 AM on January 8, 2008


hey, gates is giving away tons of money so he must be a swell guy.

Most people who are pleased about Gates' donations to charity don't necessarily think of him as a saint (like I said, most people). His motivation may not be pure and could possibly (also) be self-serving in a way, and granted, his wife and father undoubtedly nudged him along into doing it, but bottom line: he has donated tens of billions of dollars to worthwhile charities and saved hundreds of thousands of lives. That's a very good thing.
posted by Devils Slide at 7:03 AM on January 8, 2008


he has donated tens of billions of dollars to worthwhile charities and saved hundreds of thousands of lives. That's a very good thing.

sure is, but maybe if hundreds of billions of dollars weren't lost or squandered because of his company's software then alot more people would be saved. just a thought.
posted by canned polar bear at 7:33 AM on January 8, 2008


Sweet christ, you REALLY think "poor software" is the cause of lost lives? We also "squander" as a country money on shitty manufactured top 40 artists... does that mean that Britney Spears kills African children?

Get. some. fucking. perspective. assclown!
posted by hincandenza at 8:51 AM on January 8, 2008 [3 favorites]


Britney Spears kills African children

I KNEW IT
posted by cortex at 8:54 AM on January 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


Cortex wins.
posted by ninthart at 9:04 AM on January 8, 2008


Gary: Can you please give one example of this happening to a charity, ever? Or are we just throwing out hypothetical questions? In that case, how much are the charity's tech support guys getting paid to update xorg.conf files every time Ubuntu changes how they handle video card drivers?

Now there's a fair response, for once. It's hypothetical, but plausible. Worms and spam are a huge problem, and charities can get bitten just as much as anyone. What I wanted to point out in response to Cathedral's comment telling me to go watch starving children was that costs from tech issues are not magically separated from any other thing that requires effort and/or money.

As far as Ubuntu goes, I haven't used it much, but since it's a Debian-based distribution, I assume you can choose to stick with security updates only, which, as far as I am aware, are handled by the free software community in a much more urgent and professional manner than by Microsoft.

But that's sort of beside the point since it's true that there are many, much more pressing issues regarding free software on the desktop; say usability, feature-richness and documentation issues on the groupware front*. But a big problem here is that because of the MS-imposed lack of interoperability, an office cannot have some MS clients and some Gnome clients. It's one way or the other all the way, and there's too big a risk in making the switch to an entire untested system. This puts development in a catch-22: why make a big effort on groupware when there's no market, and why would the market take risks with underdeveloped groupware? Contrast this with the web: the browser-server relationship is grounded on open standards, and Firefox has been running circles around IE for years.

This gives us some clue as to what the proportion of the damage caused by the monopoly might be. It's easy to ridicule me and others for 'playing with alternate histories', but please note that this lack of precise knowledge can hardly be blamed on those who have been marginalized out of opportunities to prove themselves.

*Although I must say that I've been only following this front from the outside, and am probably not up to date with latest developments.
posted by Anything at 10:47 AM on January 8, 2008


What I wanted to point out in response to Cathedral's comment telling me to go watch starving children was that costs from tech issues are not magically separated from any other thing that requires effort and/or money.

Nor are they implicitly related. You can spend money on starving children, and spend money on tech support, but if you spend more on tech support, you're not necessarily spending less money on starving children. There is no correlation between the two.

But a big problem here is that because of the MS-imposed lack of interoperability, an office cannot have some MS clients and some Gnome clients

Why the hell not? I work an office where we do just that. I do it at home too. They write whole books on how to accomplish a mixed Linux/Windows environment.

Contrast this with the web: the browser-server relationship is grounded on open standards, and Firefox has been running circles around IE for years.

I'm not sure what this means. If you're talking about HTTP, that's a protocol, and everyone who writes a web server or web client adheres to this protocol (conveniently outlined in RFC 2616) , including Microsoft. There is no divergent HTTP protocol that only ISS/IE follow. Now if you're taking about the rendering of HTML and CSS, no single browser (that I know of) does it completely correctly (verify yourself by taking the ACID 2 test, which IE 8 has supposedly passed). I'm not even sure if the WC3, the painfully slow standards council, has even finalized their "web 2.0"-related standards. This isn't Microsoft's fault.

As far as Ubuntu goes, I haven't used it much, but since it's a Debian-based distribution, I assume you can choose to stick with security updates only, which, as far as I am aware, are handled by the free software community in a much more urgent and professional manner than by Microsoft

You can do a lot of things with Ubuntu, until you break it. I'm typing this from an Ubuntu install that I've broken and fixed many, many, many times now. It's not because Ubuntu is crappy software, or because I'm an idiot, it's because linux (and computer software in general) is inordinately complex. Window is inordinately complex as well, but it does a hell of a lot better job hiding it than Linux does.

As mentioned above, who the hell wants to buck into console mode to take a look around /var/log/Xorg.0.log looking for "EE" in an attempt to figure out why your desktop won't display after an driver update. Who the hell wants to buck into the command line to install that driver in the first place? Who the hell knows what to look for when your DVD burner isn't detected because you've got the wrong ATAPI driver. Who the hell wants to figure out how to install a Samba share, configure a networked printer, or get compiz to work for the pretty visuals? And I say this as someone who's been writing Linux software professionally for about 5 years now, with a number of amateur years prior to that...

To do these very basic things in linux can sometimes be a Herculean (or depending on your luck, Sysiphisian) task. It's much, much easier to do basic, every day things in Windows. I can't count the hours I've spent searching google for some obscure string that some program shat out to the console as a warning just before it died. People use windows because a) it's mostly easy to accomplish basic tasks using it, and b) it runs on all sorts of generic hardware you can buy from Dell/HP/whoever.

Switching all computer infrastructure from Microsoft to Linux is not a panacea. Nothing magical is going to happen to get rid of spam, or viruses or Trojans. The black-hat authors will just switch their focus to Linux, or whatever operating system has the plurality of clueless users. Like most computer security issues, the problem, for the most part, exists between the keyboard and the chair.

This gives us some clue as to what the proportion of the damage caused by the monopoly might be

It gives us no clue what-so-ever. It's nothing but kerfulffle smothered in hogwash.

but please note that this lack of precise knowledge can hardly be blamed on those who have been marginalized out of opportunities to prove themselves.

Who is being marginalized out of ANYTHING? Linux is free - go get it. Go stick a finger in the eye of Bill Gates; no one is stopping anyone. All it takes is the will to do it, and a few years of your life to learn from your mistakes while using it.
posted by SweetJesus at 12:18 PM on January 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


This gives us some clue as to what the proportion of the damage caused by the monopoly might be. It's easy to ridicule me and others for 'playing with alternate histories', but please note that this lack of precise knowledge can hardly be blamed on those who have been marginalized out of opportunities to prove themselves.

It also points to the fact that in the early days of computing, back when Microsoft had DOS and Apple had MacOS, Commodore had the AmigaOS, and a variety of companies used Unix, these companies failed to do as good a job as Microsoft did in taking advantage of commodity hardware that was affordable, en masse, to many corporations and consumers.

Today we have that same commodity hardware playing a major role in the success of Open Source software, particularly in the back end (meaning servers, not one's behind.)

Microsoft's dominance has a sad influence, yes, and some of their dominance is the result of breaking laws and strong arming other companies once they had a monopoly. But they got that monopoly at a time when said monopoly, or at least influence, was up for grabs. The others failed to take advantage.
posted by juiceCake at 12:20 PM on January 8, 2008


hicandenza:

Well, Joey Malthus, had you considered that one of those kids that would have died of malaria eventually instead lives a long and healthy life? Then, with the early help of his OLPC machine in educating him, grows up to be a brilliant agricultural scientist that finds ways to generate immense amounts of staple food from scarce resources, or perfects cold fusion. Not every potential Einstein is white and European...

chunking express:

Dude, just jump off a cliff. And try and get your friends to do the same. Then those kids dying of malaria can party like its 1999.

Just trying to roll with the "Bill Gates is evil for doing good" tone of this thread. I'm not actually in favor of infant mortality. Sorry that my attempt at Swiftian snarkiness was phrased in such an ineffectual way!
posted by Joey Michaels at 12:42 PM on January 8, 2008


It's easy to ridicule me and others for 'playing with alternate histories', but please note that this lack of precise knowledge can hardly be blamed on those who have been marginalized out of opportunities to prove themselves.

Well, the one major point about to gain from abulafa's alternate histories comment is that the choice was never really "Microsoft or Open Source". The GNU project started in 1984, and Microsoft was well on their way to dominance by then. While the PC revolution was going on, the MIT hackers were off building Lisp Machines (hardly the runner up in this race).

So if Bill Gates didn't exist, Apple would have filled the void. Or Commodore or Sun or Atari or some other corporation that probably would have behaved in a similar fashion if they had control of the market. Apple doesn't like it when you change the battery in your iPod, so why assume they would support open standards if they had a similar share of the PC market? The interface would have been more user friendly, true, but it wouldn't be some free software paradise.
posted by Gary at 12:47 PM on January 8, 2008


Sweet christ, you REALLY think "poor software" is the cause of lost lives? We also "squander" as a country money on shitty manufactured top 40 artists... does that mean that Britney Spears kills African children?

Get. some. fucking. perspective. assclown!


actually yes. when you have companies and institutions spending millions and billions to recover from problems which have nothing to do with their core competencies you are reducing the chance that they'll spend their money on something useful.

take a pharmaceutical company for instance, do you think their money is better spent on dicking around with IT problems or researching new drugs? Undoubtedly their IT costs are also passed on to their customers.

who's this 'we' kimosabe?
posted by canned polar bear at 12:54 PM on January 8, 2008


when you have companies and institutions spending millions and billions to recover from problems which have nothing to do with their core competencies

So what's stopping them from adopting a different, cheaper system if IT costs are so prohibitively expensive?

Absolutely Nothing...
posted by SweetJesus at 12:57 PM on January 8, 2008


Absolutely Nothing...

just to mention a couple of things, for one thing until recently you couldn't buy machines from major OEM's with other OS's preinstalled (i'm not sure how widespread this option is now, and please don't say that it was the OEMs' fault, if they didn't preinstall only windows MS would fuck them hard). also, windows and office are pretty much a de facto standard. switching over to another IT system would cost a fortune and a half since windows is so entrenched these days and i don't think companies generally take a long term view of these matters.
posted by canned polar bear at 1:10 PM on January 8, 2008


just to mention a couple of things, for one thing until recently you couldn't buy machines from major OEM's with other OS's preinstalled (i'm not sure how widespread this option is now, and please don't say that it was the OEMs' fault, if they didn't preinstall only windows MS would fuck them hard)

The benefit of having nearly 100% market share within the OEM world gives them a bit more muscle than most, but it's not prohibitive. You can't buy a Powerbook without Mac OS on it either... When we get new dell laptops in at the office, the first thing we do is slick them down and install RHEL 4. 80 bucks a machine per license in a corporate environment is not prohibitive...

also, windows and office are pretty much a de facto standard. switching over to another IT system would cost a fortune and a half since windows is so entrenched these days and i don't think companies generally take a long term view of these matters.

Ahhhhh.... So it would cost more to hire and train people on a new system than it's worth. So wouldn't that be saving companies money with respect to training, rather than costing them more? Where is the tipping point? Who's to say you'd spend more or less money on a whole with one system than the other? Each has it's flaws...

Any large-scale migration is going to cost you money. If you switch your corporate management philosophy from TQM to Six Sigma, you'll be spending a bunch of money reorganizing your project binders and training yellow belts. If you switch from Windows to Linux, you'll spend a bunch of money installing your new systems and training staff your staff on what a terminal is.

But how is that ANY of Microsoft's fault?
posted by SweetJesus at 1:24 PM on January 8, 2008


I am reading this thread with amazement. All I can say is that some of you really need to get out into the world a little.

No, strike that. That's not enough. What you need to do is attempt to live as the vast majority live in Africa, not be some disaster tourist. Maybe then you'll understand how utterly benighted, fatuous and completely insane it is to compare bad software to death by malaria.

There is far more of a case to be made against the legacy of Henry Ford than there is against the legacy of Bill Gates. Ford was an actual antisemite, among other things. By any objective measure, the Gates Foundation is enacting more positive change in the world than any other single organization. They are directly saving lives. They are directly, qualitatively improving the quality of life in the third world. Their work is making the difference between life and death for thousands, if not hundreds of thousands or even millions of people.

The people I know who can lay claim to similar work in the world aren't on Metafilter: they tend to be in the Peace Corps or AmeriCorps or working in areas with nearly no technology. They're out doing. They're not sitting behind a keyboard.

The only conclusion I can draw from reading this is that those of you who are making facile "evil" statements about the Gateses and their foundation have literally no concept of what's at stake, and what it means to see someone die of a preventable disease for simple lack of resources.
posted by scrump at 4:54 PM on January 8, 2008 [5 favorites]


What you need to do is attempt to live as the vast majority live in Africa,

Africa used to have a lot of forests. It's been rich in resources throughout history, though those riches are rapidly depleting. There didn't used to be famine, or widespread civil war. The situation there now is largely attributable to Western/Northern dominance in the current economic system which directly allowed Bill Gates to become who he is. I dare say a lot of the metals going in to his computers are mined there, amidst resource wars.

I'm not one of the people here calling him evil, but I do have to object again to any idea that he's some distinctively honourable man for giving to charity.

When you are worth billions and billions of dollars, the bar gets raised a little. He's giving billions to charity? Color me unimpressed. That's the absolute bare minimum of what he should be doing. It's like me holding the door for someone who's walking in after me, or giving spare change to a homeless person. No, you know what? It's like me refraining from punching random people in the head on the bus. I don't expect a medal for these things. I wouldn't even expect to be mentioned in glowing terms in a MeFi thread. He's no demon, but he's sure as hell no saint either.
posted by regicide is good for you at 7:58 PM on January 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


regicide is good for you: Africa used to have a lot of forests. It's been rich in resources throughout history, though those riches are rapidly depleting. There didn't used to be famine, or widespread civil war. The situation there now is largely attributable to Western/Northern dominance in the current economic system which directly allowed Bill Gates to become who he is. I dare say a lot of the metals going in to his computers are mined there, amidst resource wars.
Geez, it wasn't a tropical paradise, either- things like disease, high infant mortality rates, poor government, and lack of education also existed long before Bill Gates was born. Human lives have been for most of our existence nasty, brutish, and short.

More to the point, you're typing that comment from where, now? If anything, the wealth of Microsoft has been made on products that have far less material impact: software is transmittable by energy alone. Maybe it's Michael Dell you have the beef with? In any case you're benefiting from those colonial exploitations as much as Gates, in that you're living in the propped-up first world. If you find the wealth of the first world as a whole offensive, you are as guilty as the rest. All Bill did was "win" inside the sphere of first world economics- no different than complaining about the guy who wins the World Poker Tour main event, since all he did was take money from the other rich players who paid $10,000 a head to play- except that unlike a Phil Helmuth or regicide is good for you, Bill has now taken those winnings and given them to those far less fortunate. What the hell have YOU done, typing away happily on your computer, in your heated, malaria-free home? Less than him, proportionally or otherwise...
When you are worth billions and billions of dollars, the bar gets raised a little. He's giving billions to charity? Color me unimpressed. That's the absolute bare minimum of what he should be doing.
Bare minimum? Bare minimum would be dropping pennies into the salvation army canisters. But endowing the largest charitable organization on earth, giving something like a third of your personal wealth to charity, with a pledge to give it all away before you die, that's quite a bit more than "bare minimum". When you've come close to that in any measure, then you have a leg to stand on. Otherwise, you're just a prick.
posted by hincandenza at 8:32 PM on January 8, 2008 [6 favorites]


Or just putting all the money into real estate schemes and vanity museums.

Like Paul Allen.
posted by Artw at 9:11 PM on January 8, 2008


"But I never thought I would see this level of outright knee-jerkery on Metafilter."
- what are you, new here?
posted by Dillonlikescookies at 3:11 AM on January 9, 2008


hincandenza:
Geez, it wasn't a tropical paradise, either- things like disease, high infant mortality rates, poor government, and lack of education also existed long before Bill Gates was born. Human lives have been for most of our existence nasty, brutish, and short.

So who cares if the rich of the North have tried to escape this reality by exacerbating it in Africa? I don't quite get your point.

If you find the wealth of the first world as a whole offensive,

No, not as a whole. But, yes, I find much of its pedigree to be... let's say disasteful. And encouraging people to acquire wealth through destructive practices so they can then distribute wealth to assuage that destruction seems short-sighted at best.

you are as guilty as the rest.

No. No, I'm really not.
Honestly, the tu quoque arguments in discussions like this get really tiresome. If you really think that, because I was born through entirely random circumstance in to the relatively privileged North American lower middle class, I'm automatically comparable to the upper echelons of that society and entirely culpable in any of their crimes, well, I'm going to ask you to show your work.
But I suspect - and I could be wrong, since I don't know you, so forgive me if so - that those crimes aren't even your concern, and that was just a "yeah but" kneejerk reaction because you'd rather not talk about issues of class right now.
Which is fine too. But please read and consider the actual content of my comments before responding to them.

unlike a Phil Helmuth or regicide is good for you, Bill has now taken those winnings and given them to those far less fortunate.

Super. Well he should. My point was simply that those "winnings" didn't come out of nowhere, and all he's really doing is giving back borrowed money. There's nothing wrong with him doing this, but he doesn't deserve any praise above and beyond anyone else.

What the hell have YOU done, typing away happily on your computer, in your heated, malaria-free home? Less than him, proportionally or otherwise...

Wait... do we know eachother?
Because that's the only way you could answer your own question like that.
Again, it seems like you're spending a lot of time participating in a discussion you don't actually want to have. Otherwise I don't know why you would choose to seriously assume I spend all my waking time commenting on MetaFilter.

But endowing the largest charitable organization on earth, giving something like a third of your personal wealth to charity, with a pledge to give it all away before you die, that's quite a bit more than "bare minimum". When you've come close to that in any measure, then you have a leg to stand on.

A third of my personal wealth is currently going toward rent, so I'm going to decline your challenge.

Otherwise, you're just a prick.

See, this is what I mean. All I did was question why we're obligated to essentially praise people just for being rich, and and I get called nasty names.
posted by regicide is good for you at 1:29 PM on January 9, 2008


All I did was question why we're obligated to essentially praise people just for being rich, and and I get called nasty names.

While I don't think you should get called names you did a bit more than question the praise of a rich guy. you essentially called him a thief and called into question anything the guy does by virtue of the fact he has money. Which is essentially a no win argument for Gates. HE isn't to blame for "the system" either. He wasn't born rich.

You said he benefited from the system and western societies history of exploitation. So? So have YOU.

I think you need to come up with some better criticisms than, and I am paraphrasing obviously, "The guy is rich. And, becuase of the way global capitalism has been historically, all rich people are are thieves who don't deserve their money anyway."

Well. With that as an argument then it goes that you don't deserve your money either... just because you have less of it is no excuse. 1/3rd of your income goes to rent. So. You technically could live some where cheaper. Or. More to the point. You intend to improve you financial situation at some point, correct? People have the right to improve thier financial situation, correct? Or do you propose to always take a vow of poverty. Why is your income yours? Why do you have this right and not somebody like Bill Gates?

Our roads. ALL our infrastructure. This very country itself (as well as most western former Imperial nations) derived their wealth from exploitation. Napoleon's architectural handiwork can be found scattered across Europe, from Rome to Vienna. While that doesn't make it right - it is a fact. And who is to say that Africans or any other victim of the west wouldn't do the same if given the opportunity. Looking at China. Looks like they are seizing the day.

I think it's a very lazy critique of man who is giving a huge portion of his wealth to saving lives and swears to continue to do so as long as he lives. While I agree that this is what rich people SHOULD do. The fact is they don't. What proportion of your income and time do you give? It's a valid counter argument to yours.

Your fight is with the vagaries of consumer capitalism. The foundations of which were all in place LONG before Gates. I suppose you can be upset that he has exploited it better than you. Given the historical accident and alignment of circumstances that was the creation of MS that is weak sauce as well.

*Full disclosure: Not a fan of MS. Apple owner.
posted by tkchrist at 2:58 PM on January 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


Me: But a big problem here is that because of the MS-imposed lack of interoperability, an office cannot have some MS clients and some Gnome clients

SweetJesus: Why the hell not? I work an office where we do just that. I do it at home too. They write whole books on how to accomplish a mixed Linux/Windows environment.

Let me more clear. How do you integrate Evolution with Exchange/Outlook if the established office workflow counts on NDA-covered MAPI details?

Who is being marginalized out of ANYTHING?

As I said earlier, Microsoft's abuse of their monopoly has been verified by courts in both the US and the EU.

juiceCake: Microsoft's dominance has a sad influence, yes, and some of their dominance is the result of breaking laws and strong arming other companies once they had a monopoly. But they got that monopoly at a time when said monopoly, or at least influence, was up for grabs. The others failed to take advantage.

This is akin to saying that it's OK to pocket the contents of a found wallet because other people would've probably done so as well. As an avid wallet-returner, I consider that a poor excuse.

hincandenza: Sweet christ, you REALLY think "poor software" is the cause of lost lives? We also "squander" as a country money on shitty manufactured top 40 artists... does that mean that Britney Spears kills African children?

I don't see your point. Public service institutions cannot live without IT, but they can, and do, live without a Britney Spears merchandise budget.
posted by Anything at 8:25 PM on January 9, 2008


Unless there's something groundbreaking in this discussion, I think that'll be my last comment.
posted by Anything at 8:37 PM on January 9, 2008


tkchrist: Your fight is with the vagaries of consumer capitalism. The foundations of which were all in place LONG before Gates. I suppose you can be upset that he has exploited it better than you. Given the historical accident and alignment of circumstances that was the creation of MS that is weak sauce as well.

Win!

This argument seems so ridiculous to me! Pitting the merits of a ghost world where Microsoft embraces open source against the tangible results of giving billions upon billions in direct aid to needy people and places.

Come to think of it, trying to find the "net" good or evil in a person in such a complicated position as Gates' is folly to begin with. Let's all just chill out and play TF2 on our evil Windows boxes.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 5:27 PM on January 13, 2008


I'm hoping that Bill will do on his last day at MS what I did on my last day at MS...

Eat an entire dish of shuttle-candy.
posted by billyfleetwood at 6:20 PM on January 13, 2008


Man was not meant to eat that much laffy-taffy.
posted by Artw at 6:29 PM on January 13, 2008


« Older Don't skimp on the lingonberries   |   Nicole Gastonguay's crocheted art Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments