The lowdown on Gates
I have no beef with most of Eric Alterman’s criticisms of Steve Jobs—aside from wondering why they weren’t uttered when Jobs was alive. But when he proclaims Bill Gates to be the superior human being because Gates donated to charity and Jobs didn’t, that’s where I have to say, “Hold up there, partner!”
Here is part of what Contribute magazine, a publication dedicated to covering the world of charitable giving, recently had to say about Bill Gates:
But perhaps the most stinging criticism of the Gates Foundation so far is that it (and Buffett) has been investing its considerable charitable assets in corporations that, in many instances, have been contradicting its charitable goals—from companies responsible for heavy air pollution in the Niger Delta to pharmaceutical firms whose pricing policies have tended to keep antiretroviral drugs out of reach for HIV/AIDS patients in developing nations. Some even allege that Gates foundation investments—as well as Buffett’s—are indirectly supporting the Sudanese oil industry, whose profits some say help to support the Sudanese government’s genocide in Darfur.
Besides his controversial charitable works and his investing in companies that counter the stated goals of those charities, there is also his generous support of Koch brothers–backed climate-change denialism and his support of the American Legislative Exchange Council, a powerful and well-financed group that writes incredibly heinous anti-human, “pro-business” legislation for all levels of government and is a key force behind the Republican takeover of several state legislatures. So, no, let’s not rush to canonize Gates as we deliver Jobs an overdue, albeit posthumous, rebuke.