American Samizdat

Friday, September 22, 2006. *


Over at American Samizdat where I'm pretty much the John McCain Republican there was an attack on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Where Uncle Scam, who I mostly agree with despite his affection for the band The Afghan Wigs, said some things and quoted from some sources that I didn't agree with:

Gates Foundation: Helping the world, one murderous investment at a time.

Look at that list of corporations. Does any one of those represent your vision of what the world should look like in the future? It's almost a top ten list of the world's top environmental marauders.

Okay, let's offer some defenses here:

One.) There needs to some separation between what the evil company Microsoft does and what the Foundation does. Quite frankly, the foundation does wonderful stuff. They've saved, if this page is correct, about 1 million African lives with many more to come. Yes, there probably are attempts to build the Microsoft brand while they're saving poor people just like I'm stuck with Explorer and Explorer only in public libraries but who gives a fuck? If you're living in sub Saharan Africa and you're alive because of a Microsoft funded vaccine then I think you're okay with the branding.

Two.) I don't hate Bill Gates because he's autistic. A lot of smart people are. It's a combination of genetics and environmental poisons. Its not his fault. Perhaps his foundation can do something about that.

Three:) I think Bill Gates generally wants to help people through the Foundation. Yes, there's a branding component to it, but I don't think its the main thing.

Four.) I don't hate all capitalists. Some of them are very talented and have earned their money by offering innovative and exciting products and ideas. Bill Gates, even though you could argue that he was groomed to be a part of the ruling classes, earned his money through his ideas and his drive. It's not like he's incompetent like our President. The kind of guy who will kill, well, pretty much an unlimited amount of people in order to further the interests of the oil industry. Microsoft, while no saint, hasn't murdered a hundred thousand Iraqis to further its ends. And the Foundation does much much good.

Five.) Okay, so you're unimpressed with Bill saving, perhaps, millions of lives or that really cool school experiment in Philly (Quick Leno like joke:"Heard Microsoft is funding a school in inner city Philly...but then the school crashed and the 700 students were lost...(rimshot)!), what about the fact that it probably inspired Richard Branson to spend $3 billion to fight global warming, inspired Google to set up its own billion dollar foundation and probably inspired Craig Newmark (okay he might have done it anyway) to set up the Craigslist foundation. I might note that all of these men have exciting ideas about philanthropy. It's not United Way handout stuff. I've already applied for a grant from one of them and been turned down but I'll keep trying. Bottom line: Bill's foundation is encouraging Atlas not to shrug. And being that Atlas will drown with the rest of us if the worst case Mother of Storms global warming scenarios come true then that might be worthwhile.

Six.) How ethical is it to use profits from unethical companies to fund ethical causes. I don't know. But at least Bill is trying. What exactly are the good works of Exxon that they've done with their record ill-gotten, price gouging profits? I'll wait.

Seven.) Yes, I will be asking the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for a small personal grant...And perhaps a yacht.

posted by Philip Shropshire at 8:01 PM
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