speaking about socio-economic investments
October 29, 2001 11:38 AM   Subscribe

speaking about socio-economic investments (whether the $200 billion the government is investing into producing the joint service fighter will benefit our society more if invested elswhere)... the seattle times carried an interesting article about the bill & melinda gates foundation on sunday. with an endowment of $24.2 billion, it must find ways to give away the equivalent of $3.3 million each day, in order to meet federal tax rules to remain a non-profit/tax-free organization.

with so much fund at his disposal, it seems bill gates is attacking neglected social and health problems around the world with more resources than the u.s. government has been doing in some areas. with a small (and less bureaucratic?) staff, the foundation appears to be efficient and focused (reflecting the drive, passion, and result-orientation of bill gates). it will be interesting to watch the progress (and impact) bill has on the world besides what he does at microsoft. i wish him success.
posted by kliuless (12 comments total)
(link and writeup via my dad :)
posted by kliuless at 11:38 AM on October 29, 2001

For all of my well-deserved antipathy towards Microsoft's position in the market, I have to say that I'm a glad for their philanthropy, even if it is such a small amount of their wealth and potentially highly motivated by tax writeoffs.

That money can do a lot of people good, so thank you Bill and Melinda for helping. I wish I could do the same.
posted by fooljay at 11:59 AM on October 29, 2001

The foundation earmarked $1.44 billion for world health issues last year, almost $300 million more than the U.S. government did
posted by dydecker at 12:08 PM on October 29, 2001

I can't remember where I read this, perhaps a short Wired article, but for some reason I'm fairly sure that it's actually William Gates Senior who is in charge of the day-to-day operation of the foundation.
posted by nathan_teske at 12:10 PM on October 29, 2001


Shame on the US Govt.
posted by dydecker at 12:10 PM on October 29, 2001

People giving money to nonprofits is always good. If that means the governmentt collects less in taxes, so be it.

Anyone who uses the rules to minimize their taxes to the biggest bureaucracy in the world is allright in my book. I wouldn't (and don't) want to see my money squandered away either.
posted by Witold at 12:16 PM on October 29, 2001

My employer is pretty excited about the JSF contract...
posted by dj mikey at 12:28 PM on October 29, 2001

Er, it's the Joint Strike Fighter. But I agree, philanthropy can be cool and I look forward to seeing how this will impact with interest.

Social exclusion is a bad thing everywhere and giving underprivelaged people access to the modern techincal might that MS, and the technology industry generally produce can only be a good thing.

Typing lessons should be compulsory in schools, at least until decent voice recognition comes in, just think how much more productive we would be (and how many more people could apply for decent tech salaries) if we could all type reasonably.
posted by nedrichards at 12:31 PM on October 29, 2001

Good for the Gateses.
posted by ilsa at 1:10 PM on October 29, 2001

So why don't we hear about the Larry Ellison Foundation?
posted by themikeb at 1:23 PM on October 29, 2001

I'm not sure why this has to be a Manichean choice between guns or butter. We need to defend ourselves (I hope that's utterly clear to all reading today, as opposed perhaps to two months ago), and we can't keep doing it with 1970s era technology. The JSF is going to be dramatically less expensive than other options (e.g. look how much the F-22 Raptor will cost ... $200M per plane).

nathan is correct that Gates Sr. is now CEO of the foundation (these things are easy to look up, you know), but they have a professional management team, and the money does come from Gates Jr.'s fantastically enormous Microsoft wealth. By the way, what is wrong with that page? By the way, what is wrong with that page?

Witold, you do realize that taxes are structured the way they are to encourage philanthropy? Yes, so all is working as intended.

There will always be things which private giving can manage better than the government, and vice versa. I don't think we need set up a competition. In any event, the only thing which really distinguishes the Gates Foundation from, say, the Ford Foundation is the scale; it certainly, and thankfully, is not alone. (At a capitalization this year of over $24B, they've fast outstripped their predecessors on that list.)
posted by dhartung at 3:04 PM on October 29, 2001

Setup your own foundation. I did. Using Fidelity Charitable Trust .. seed the fund with $10k minimum. Get a tax break. Doll out grants to any non-profit in $250 minimum incriments using a web-based form. So rather than dealing with tax breaks, writing checks, credit cards, receipts, etc.. for all those PBS and other nickle and time stuff you just do it one-time. Options for anonymous and scheduled giving. Its been a hell of a lot of fun running my own "foundation" .. the checks arrive with your foundation name and people think your a millionaire, opens doors. Not bad deal at all and everyone wins. If you have the $10k minumum.
posted by stbalbach at 7:23 PM on October 29, 2001 [1 favorite]

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