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Gates Foundation To Spend All Its Assets

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the limited-lifespan dept.

The Almighty Buck 319

El Lobo writes "The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has said it will spend all its assets within 50 years of both of them dying. The foundation focuses on improving health and economic development globally, and improving education and increasing access to technology. It also focuses on fighting diseases such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. The Seattle-based foundation plans to increase spending to about $3.5 billion a year beginning in 2009 and continuing through the next decade, up from about $1.75 billion this year." The Wall Street Journal (excerpted at the link above) called the foundation's decision "a decisive move in a continuing debate in philanthropy about whether such groups should live on forever."

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319 comments

The funds may live forever (5, Insightful)

davidwr (791652) | more than 7 years ago | (#17082704)

How many endowed research programs will this money go to?

Yes, the foundation will cease, but a good chunk of the funds will remain as permanent endowments for the various causes that the Gates support. The most important difference will be management: Each will be managed by people close to the individual projects.

Stupid (0, Troll)

BoomerSooner (308737) | more than 7 years ago | (#17082714)

Why not setup a trust that just spends the interest on the earnings. That way they can give for generations?

Bizarre. Where do i get my check?

Re:Stupid (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17082740)

Maybe they want to help the most people the can right now rather than making them wait a few decades?

Re:Stupid (2, Insightful)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | more than 7 years ago | (#17082746)

Why not setup a trust that just spends the interest on the earnings.

Or fund projects that might be profitable as well as beneficial in the long term, but that no other corporation wants to fund because the profits might only show a century later.

-b.

Re:Stupid (4, Interesting)

Mateo_LeFou (859634) | more than 7 years ago | (#17082758)

Something tell me that the guys who run multibillion dollar foundation might've thought of that. My guess is that the principle could do more good in the hands of organizations (especially, IMO, OLPC ;) than sitting in a bank. That is: even more good that the interest the bank pays on it.

Re:Stupid (5, Insightful)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#17082760)

They tend to invest in doing things that will persist for generations; educating one person can change the lives of all of their descendants and so forth, and by spending it near their lives, they make sure that the spending is relevant to what they care about and that no leaches come in and live off the trust.

Re:Stupid (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17083142)

They tend to invest in doing things that will persist for generations

Like Creationist education [toast442.org] ?

(Also: why does this get modded down to Troll or Flamebait almost instantly, whenever I post it? Is it unreasonable to question where some of the Gates/Buffett largesse is going, considering how much Gates rambles on about the importance of science education to future US competitiveness?)

Re:Stupid (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#17083300)

Because a few tens of thousands of dollars misdirected slightly(by the think center even) is a strange thing to worry about in the face of tens(err, hundreds) of millions of dollars well spent. If the grants to the Discovery Foundation did any damage in 2006, the other activities of the Gates foundation made up for it by sometime around 12:05 on January the 1st.

Thanks for the pointer by the way, I used to have an open mind about Manjoo, now I know he is a worthless hack.

Re:Stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17083324)

Because a few tens of thousands of dollars misdirected slightly(by the think center even) is a strange thing to worry about in the face of tens(err, hundreds) of millions of dollars well spent

RTFA. The Gates Foundation gave ten million dollars to the Discovery Center.

Re:Stupid (1)

Atlantis-Rising (857278) | more than 7 years ago | (#17083374)

To be spent on transportation analysis projects, not creationist research.

Re:Stupid (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#17083426)

I *read* the article(emphasis implies 'comprehension'). Most of that money was spent on other projects. Specifically, the Cascadia project. That they gave money to a center that does some good things and some bad things doesn't bother me all that much, especially since they gave money to a good thing.

Re:Stupid (1)

LindseyJ (983603) | more than 7 years ago | (#17083362)

Is it unreasonable to question where some of the Gates/Buffett largesse is going, considering how much Gates rambles on about the importance of science education to future US competitiveness?

Yes. Almost as unreasonable as preferring one theory about the beginning of time over another.

Re:Stupid (2, Insightful)

Steppman2 (1029992) | more than 7 years ago | (#17083400)

Quite frankly, it's his money...and since he's decided to give it to charity he should be able to decide what charities to give it to. Technically speaking he could just burn it all to keep his house warm, or buy millions of hookers. Even if he had spent a billion dollars on Christian education that still isn't anywhere near what he gives to everything else. I think respect should be given where it's due, as much as I don't like Microsoft, Bill Gates is giving a lot of money that he earned willingly to help those less fortunate. Thanks Bill, keep it up.

Re:Stupid (1)

DenDude (922896) | more than 7 years ago | (#17083420)

Like Creationist education?
From TF(Salon)A

The Gates Foundation responds that it hasn't abandoned science to back intelligent design. Greg Shaw, Pacific Northwest director, explains that the grant to Discovery underwrites the institute's "Cascadia Project," which strictly focuses on transportation in the Northwest.
So it looks like the funding is not going to "Creationist Education", but to a project to improve transportation in the Northwest, although it's the same group.

Re:Stupid (5, Insightful)

daeg (828071) | more than 7 years ago | (#17082782)

That's not the goal, though, of the foundation. The goal is to invest, but not invest in traditional stock markets. They are investing in human lives and the betterment of mankind as a whole, which is a much stronger investment, where the returns do keep on giving for generations even after the actual money runs dry.

Also, as the foundation proves that it is working, more and more high-power donations will probably pour in, albeit not as large as Gates'. The plan is based on their current funding level and their expected contributions from the Gates family.

Re:Stupid (1)

BoomerSooner (308737) | more than 7 years ago | (#17082852)

If the goal is to help people wouldn't it make sense to help them in perpetuity instead of just for the next 50 years?

People will probably need more help going forward, not less. It doesn't concern me. Just my thoughts on the subject.

Re:Stupid (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 7 years ago | (#17082890)

People will probably need more help going forward, not less.

Unless of course, they fix things permanently, now. Then people can need no help going forward. So instead of requiring people to live in mildly improved misery forever, they can do away with the misery altogether.

Re:Stupid (2, Insightful)

BoomerSooner (308737) | more than 7 years ago | (#17083278)

Lol, that's likely. Call me up when there is no need for contributions to charities.

Re:Stupid (1)

LindseyJ (983603) | more than 7 years ago | (#17083422)

That is never going to happen, ever. There are always going to be underprivileged, 'miserable' people. Our entire social structure is built upon that basic assumption, so that the rest of us can live our lives in a better state than they while standing on their shoulders, and those above us can do the same.

Don't like it? You can always try and start your own society where that basic principal doesn't hold true, though history is against those sorts of societies lasting terribly long (or being terribly effective). Failing that, you could kill yourself, or go live by yourself on a desert island someplace. That's the only other way you won't have to deal with it.

Re:Stupid (4, Insightful)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 7 years ago | (#17083004)

If the goal is to help people wouldn't it make sense to help them in perpetuity instead of just for the next 50 years?

If they invest money toward finding cures for diseases, they are helping people in perpetuity.

Re:Stupid (1)

BoomerSooner (308737) | more than 7 years ago | (#17083340)

That's assuming there are no new diseases. How likely is that?

Save 100 lives today, or one a year for 100 years? (3, Insightful)

MDMurphy (208495) | more than 7 years ago | (#17082866)

If you could save 100 lives today, wouldn't that be better than saving 1 a year for 100 years? While it's not sure that spending all the money now gets you 100x the benefit, holding back money for the sake of keeping the foundation going isn't necessarily increasing the benefit.

A lot depends on what your target charities are. If you're funding protection for farmers who have bad seasons, then spending it all now isn't going to prevent future bad seasons and will only provide a temporary relief. If your target is a cure or immunization for AIDS then achieving that goal as quickly as possible with the funds available would warrant not holding back.

Putting the benefit you hope to achieve first, above the life of the foundation, seems to be more true to the goals of a foundation.

Re:Save 100 lives today, or one a year for 100 yea (0, Troll)

Sinbios (852437) | more than 7 years ago | (#17082984)

Well, when you have THAT much money, it generates a lot of interest. Like the Nobel. So a better analogy would be saving 100 people today, or 10 people a year forever.

Re:Save 100 lives today, or one a year for 100 yea (3, Insightful)

DrKyle (818035) | more than 7 years ago | (#17083320)

They aren't out to save people, they're out to save humanity. If they can do it sooner, rather than later, isn't that better for everybody?

Re:Stupid (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17083110)

I think you're missing the point. They're not just giving the money away. The foundation is investing in results. By committing to ultimately spend all funds, a sense of urgency is created--you can't just say "we'll get to that later." You have to achieve results before that money is spent.

Re:Stupid (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 7 years ago | (#17083304)

Doesn't matter - if you take a fair chunk of money and invest it at a good rate of return, compounded annually, it will eventually be worth nothing. Don't believe me? So how much is a Spanish (the origin of the Dollar sign) worth today? Not to mention Lira, Drachma and a whole zoo of now defunct currencies.

Increase access to technology? (0, Troll)

Realistic_Dragon (655151) | more than 7 years ago | (#17082728)

Does this mean that they will help the OLPC project out with some funding now rather than making fun of it [blogspot.com] ?

Re:Increase access to technology? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17083054)

You're mixing Gates' business interests with his philanthropy interests and questioning him when they conflict?

Re:Increase access to technology? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17083056)

No, the Gates foundation is about feeding (millions of) men for a day, not teaching them to fish.

Seems like a waste (4, Insightful)

Jekler (626699) | more than 7 years ago | (#17082734)

I think it would be a better move to establish organizational policies that dictate an amount or percentage that must be donated over certain time periods, instead of effectively forcing the end of a charitable foundation.

Building such a large foundation is no small task, it just seems like a waste to dissolve all the work that went into it just because the founders aren't alive. I think it would be smarter to establish a policy that prevents it from hoarding assets and forces continued charitable work. Sort of like a charity/monetary GPL.

Re:Seems like a waste (4, Insightful)

jadavis (473492) | more than 7 years ago | (#17082974)

Building such a large foundation is no small task, it just seems like a waste to dissolve all the work that went into it just because the founders aren't alive.

But foundations have a tendency to lose their way quickly after the benefactors die. There are no reality checks when it comes to a foundation, there is no feedback cycle that keeps them healthy.

Look at the Nobel Prize. It's more of a political organization than anything else.

Re:Seems like a waste (2, Insightful)

Jekler (626699) | more than 7 years ago | (#17083208)

I agree that foundations have a tendency to have their original intentions become distorted. I just think there should be some way to preserve it without complete dissolution being the best course of action.

A side note: Not sure how I ended up getting modded troll, that seemed odd.

Redistributing the wealth (5, Interesting)

i_should_be_working (720372) | more than 7 years ago | (#17082736)

One thing I really like about the philanthropic gestures from the Bill and Melinda foundation is that their fortune is new money and it all came from selling software to the middle class or above. It's literally taking (willingly) from the rich and giving to the poor.

Re:Redistributing the wealth (4, Insightful)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 7 years ago | (#17082824)

It's literally taking (willingly) from the rich and giving to the poor.

No, it's not. Exactly not.

He's not taking the cash equivalent of the price of a vaccine and all of the costs of getting that vaccine to a child in Africa, and then just handing that money to that poor person. He's changing the circumstances on the ground so that those people can become middle class folks who will participate in an economy like the one that his existing customers enjoy. That's WAY better than "giving" it to them.

Re:Redistributing the wealth (0, Troll)

Sinbios (852437) | more than 7 years ago | (#17082910)

You make it sound like some evil scheme to... help them become his "victims" or something. By keeping them from dying from various diseases! Gee.

Re:Redistributing the wealth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17083060)

Their move to the middle class is then followed by them paying through the nose to use their new computers...

Re:Redistributing the wealth (1)

i_should_be_working (720372) | more than 7 years ago | (#17083090)

Well, I never said he's giving cold hard cash to poor kids in other countries did I? And I appreciate your point, but geez, it's just a saying and it's still applies. No matter what manipulations the wealth goes through, the fact is he's still giving it away.

Re:Redistributing the wealth (3, Insightful)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 7 years ago | (#17083258)

No matter what manipulations the wealth goes through, the fact is he's still giving it away.

But that's exactly my point: he's not. In every sense that matters, he's investing it. Which is a far, far better thing than giving it away. He has a vested interest in a thriving market economy peopled by healthy, educated, productive (not dead or dying of hideous diseases) folks, and he's spending the money towards that end. As we've seen over and over again, simply giving it away not only doesn't really help, it usually makes matters worse.

Re:Redistributing the wealth (5, Insightful)

Surt (22457) | more than 7 years ago | (#17082958)

It's literally taking (willingly) from the rich and giving to the poor.

Willingly is way off. He had a monopoly position in operating systems that made it literally impossible to buy computer equipment without giving Microsoft money.

Maybe I wanted to spend my money on a different, worthwhile cause?

Maybe I feel the Gates foundation is completely incompetent, and I'd like to spend that money on the same cause in a more effective way?

Doing some good with the money you stole from people doesn't make up for the stealing.

Re:Redistributing the wealth (0)

AArmadillo (660847) | more than 7 years ago | (#17083072)

I don't know. Robin Hood was usually considered to be a heroic character.

Re:Redistributing the wealth (2, Insightful)

Surt (22457) | more than 7 years ago | (#17083120)

I'm pretty sure that's because in the Robin Hood stories, the rich are evil miscreants who work hard to ensure the poor suffer.

I personally tend not to think of myself that way, and do my best not to act that way.

Re:Redistributing the wealth (1)

A.K.A_Magnet (860822) | more than 7 years ago | (#17083376)

If Gates had just profited from the wealthy (ie Western and Japanese) people it would be OK. But he also sold his overpriced low-quality OS to poor people and thus exploited the Third World. Robin Hood wouldn't have done so. If Bill Gates had used Windows and all his bad-quality software to take money from us rich people and then give back to fight AIDS and help the Third World, I may say "why not"? I'm a Free Software fanatic but that would have redeemed Gates' soul. The problem is, Gates continues to sell features-stripped Windows versions to Indian people, etc. Now it shouldn't ever be forgotten that Bill Gates created his empire this way (and that he broke the law numerous times and has no ethics).

Re:Redistributing the wealth (2, Insightful)

Bottlemaster (449635) | more than 7 years ago | (#17083108)

I know shouldn't feed trolls, but you had a literal choice and you literally chose Microsoft. If you wanted to spend your money on a "different, worthwhile cause", you should have.

Re:Redistributing the wealth (0)

Surt (22457) | more than 7 years ago | (#17083134)

No, I didn't have a literal choice. There was no computer manufacturer who would sell my computer equipment I needed to do business that would sell me computer equipment without a microsoft license.

Yes, you did have a choice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17083294)

Literally.

Re:Redistributing the wealth (4, Insightful)

LaughingCoder (914424) | more than 7 years ago | (#17083160)

Speaking of redistributing wealth ... tell that to the government as well.

The government has a monopoly position that makes it literally impossible to earn, invest or buy *anything* without giving the government money.

Maybe I wanted to spend my money on a different, worthwhile cause?

Maybe I feel the government is completely incompetent and I'd like to spend that money on the same cause in a more effective way?

Doing some good with the money you stole from people doesn't make up for the stealing.

Re:Redistributing the wealth (1)

i_should_be_working (720372) | more than 7 years ago | (#17083214)

Willingly is way off. He had a monopoly position in operating systems that made it literally impossible to buy computer equipment without giving Microsoft money.

Did someone force you to buy a computer? No, you willingly departed with your money in exchange for a computer. Despite the way we behave around here computers are still, in fact, not a necessity of life.

Re:Redistributing the wealth (1)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 7 years ago | (#17083336)

Did someone force you to buy a computer? No, you willingly departed with your money in exchange for a computer. Despite the way we behave around here computers are still, in fact, not a necessity of life.
For many (or perhpas now, most) businesses, computers are necessary for life.

Besides which, your argument is ridiculous: just because something is not absolutely necessary to live does not mean that it is not a monopoly that people effectively have to buy. For example: gasolene is not a necessity of life, yet how many people in the US could get buy without buying it? Let's go a bit further: are clothes a necessity of life? Probably not in summer for large parts of the USA.

Re:Redistributing the wealth (1, Insightful)

NineNine (235196) | more than 7 years ago | (#17083380)

He had a monopoly position in operating systems that made it literally impossible to buy computer equipment without giving Microsoft money.

You're slandering one of the greatest philanthropists of our generation with an outright lie. [apple.com]

Fuck you.

Re:Redistributing the wealth (2, Informative)

troll -1 (956834) | more than 7 years ago | (#17082990)

Most it came from an illegal monopoly [usdoj.gov]

Great (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17083434)

Let's have some more illegal monopolies then! It's good for the world!

Wrong (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 7 years ago | (#17083316)

Most of their money came from governments. Government departments spend fantastic amounts of money on software - hundreds of millions per year, per state. Now guess where that money comes from.

I actually agree with that decision... (4, Insightful)

jejones (115979) | more than 7 years ago | (#17082742)

The vast majority of funds and foundations that have long survived their founders have gone in ideological directions that would outrage said founders; if Gates has set a time limit on his foundation, I certainly can't argue with it.

Charities should go away after a while (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17082744)

I applaud this decision. I think that businesses and charities should all have a life span. Too often they become bloated with bureaucracy and weighted down with useless traditions. They think only of prolonging their own existence, above all other things.

I am gaining respect for Mr. Gates with his handling of this charity. For a decade I outspent him in charity giving as a percentage of my income and worth. It is great to see him come around and finally give back to the world what the world was so gracious to give to him.

Re:Charities should go away after a while (4, Insightful)

Jekler (626699) | more than 7 years ago | (#17082820)

Mr. Gates has proven Machiavelli correct. As time marches forward, critics of Microsoft and Bill Gates are changing their tune; what Mr. Gates ultimately does with his wealth is more important than where it came from or how he got started building the wealth. Anti-trust violations, corporate bullying, it's acceptable so long as you later form a charity.

Re:Charities should go away after a while (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17082924)

Somehow bundling IE with Windows doesn't seem as morally objectionable as employing child slaves to make shoes or something like that. Most people wouldn't find MS's offenses objectionable at all, that's a small minority here on Slashdot. Do you think breaking one law is the same as breaking any law? I see Bill Gates as a middle class college dropout who worked his ass off and is now going to help a lot of people. What can you say for yourself? What can I say for myself?

Re:Charities should go away after a while (1)

Jekler (626699) | more than 7 years ago | (#17083094)

Somehow employing child slaves doesn't seem as morally objectionable as raping babies or something like that. There are even people who wouldn't find raping babies objectionable at all, even though that's a small minority. Do you think breaking one law is the same as breaking any law? I see the baby raper as a middle class college dropout, but at least he gives money to charity. What can you say for yourself? What can I say for myself?

Re:Charities should go away after a while (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17083152)

You can say that you feel that the difference between bundling software in a monopolistic fashion and employing child slaves is no greater than the difference between employing child slaves and raping babies.

*nods*

Re:Charities should go away after a while (1)

Jekler (626699) | more than 7 years ago | (#17083178)

The point is, there's always "something worse". You can't say that someone's actions aren't reprehensible just because you can think of something more reprehensible. It has nothing to do with the relative comparison.

Re:Charities should go away after a while (3, Insightful)

metlin (258108) | more than 7 years ago | (#17083154)

Wow, what a troll.

Well, is speeding over the speed limit comparable to killing a man?

Sure, you break the law in both cases but the conditions and consequences are different.

Bill is breaking the traffic rules but saving people's lives -- while he's definitely breaking the law, I'd rather have him break the speed limit and help save people's lives than not.

Get some perspective, people. Perspective.

Life is bigger than software, and I cannot believe that folks are comparing antitrust violations and business practices with raping and killnig babies. Sheesh.

Re:Charities should go away after a while (2, Insightful)

Jekler (626699) | more than 7 years ago | (#17083270)

No speeding is not comparable to killing a man. But actions don't become better just because there's something worse.

If someone steals $10,000 from you, and you find out some time later he's started his own business, living quite well in a Florida condo, and he's running an animal shelter, do you tell him what a great guy he is?

Re:Charities should go away after a while (1)

metlin (258108) | more than 7 years ago | (#17083342)

If I have used his services in anyway, then I have no right to complain. The folks that complain have used Microsoft's services in some way. Expensive? Yes. Forced, even? Perhaps (although this is a fine line).

The guy hasn't stolen money for you - you paid that money because you wanted something in return (i.e. an Operating System, an Office application or whatever). Oh, he might have been sly and cunning in making you use that software, but you always had the choice to walk away. Is it unethical? Most definitely.

But comparable to murder and rape? Hell, no.

Secondly, Microsoft is a corporation with the bottom line as its objective and Bill is but a part of the corporation. The actions of the corporation do not equal the actions of Bill, and vice versa.

I'd rather have a hundred Microsofts with a Bill at the helm helping the poor than a hundred Larry Ellisons.

Phew! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17083018)

what [Rich People] ultimately [do] with [their] wealth is more important than where it came from or how [they] got started building the wealth.


So my inherited family fortune originally built on slavery and then bootlegging is finally respectable now! Thank a god!

Oh wait, it's always been respectable, hasn't it.

That's the thing about wealth in America: nobody cares how you got it just so long as you got it.

Re:Charities should go away after a while (3, Insightful)

metlin (258108) | more than 7 years ago | (#17083078)

Anti-trust violations, corporate bullying, it's acceptable so long as you later form a charity.

It is the degree of committing something wrong.

You see, if I commit a traffic violation and if I save a man's life, does it really matter?

Now Microsoft's business practices aren't particularly wonderful, but if at the end of the day, if it could help save millions of lives and help improve the quality of life for people across the world, then I honestly don't give a damn.

Secondly, Bill Gates != Microsoft -- the latter is a corporation, and all corporations always have one motto - improve share holder value by working on the bottomline. Microsoft is no exception, and if a part of that profit is being used to help the *really* needy, then so be it.

The way I see it is that all the whining about business practices is for the rich (i.e. a society that has enough money to afford computers and expensive software) and Bill using this money to help the poor. Of course, since _you_ are the rich being ripped off, you don't quite see it that way.

Bill is a geek who was shrewd enough to hack the system to make money out of it, and he is giving it to the poor. More power to him.

I'd rather have someone like him than someone like, say, Larry Ellison or Sam Walton.

I mean, look at Larry Ellison's charity track record [wikipedia.org] -- there is nothing stopping Bill from doing the exact same thing. But instead, he is using it for not just *some* good, but a lot of good.

Planned obsolescence is a good thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17082752)

Many of these charities (governments, etc.) become all about servicing the bureaucracy and preserving the status quo than doing whatever the original charter was as they become older.

Let's see... (5, Insightful)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 7 years ago | (#17082770)

Bill is evil for having that much money!
Money is evil for existing!
He was evil for hording it!
He's evil for spending it, no matter he spends it on!
He's evil if he doesn't spend it fast enough!
He's evil unless he spends it exactly on the things that the most people here who say he's evil can agree that he should spend it on! And even then, he's still evil!
Children with AIDS shouldn't want to live longer if it means saying they don't care about Windows 98's browser implementation issues!

Really, why do articles like this even make it here? Bill and Melissa's charitable foundation - which puts all others to shame - is nothing more than a blank canvas on which to paint your already-existing opinion of the man. We might as well put up an article about what brand of corn chips he prefers, since it would result in exactly the same conversation.

Re:Let's see... (1)

volsung (378) | more than 7 years ago | (#17082902)

Brilliant.... I've been trying to figure out how to phrase this general idea, and you nailed it.

Re:Let's see... (1)

ksalter (1009029) | more than 7 years ago | (#17082922)

I agree also, though you must admit that at least the "bill as borg" image was not used on the front page.

Re:Let's see... (1)

volsung (378) | more than 7 years ago | (#17083318)

Oh, upon rereading, I realized that I was agreeing with something more general than most people are seeing. I don't have much of an opinion about Bill Gates, perhaps due to oversaturation generated by reading several-too-many Slashdot threads on the guy. I was more applauding someone putting words to my suspicion as to why threads on topics like these usually degenerate into pointlessness.

Let me generalize the original poster's statement: Facts and events are just a blank canvas upon which we paint our pre-existing opinions. Once you grasp the basics of the subject being discussed, most comments you read will teach you more about the person posting them than the topic itself.

Once stated that way, it seems painfully obvious. Nevertheless, I often forget it while idly sifting through posts, looking for something interesting, and getting annoyed with ridiculous comments that twist an innocuous statement into "proof" of some talking point. I should just accept it as a natural and normal product of our psychology. :)

(I leave it as an exercise to the reader to recursively apply the principle to this post as well.)

Re:Let's see... (1)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 7 years ago | (#17083350)

(I leave it as an exercise to the reader to recursively apply the principle to this post as well.)

Ah hah! A challenge! But first, let me talk about the idealogy that leads you to your comment...

But seriously, you're right, and thanks for getting my larger point. It's especially true when in comes to more polarizing topics like Bill.

Re:Let's see... (0, Troll)

undeaf (974710) | more than 7 years ago | (#17082932)

Really, why do articles like this even make it here?
Considering how rabidly defensive your post is, and that it was modded up right away, when the summary says nothing critical about the gates foundation or about this move, and if you're absolutely sure that it has to be against microsoft in one way or another, well then, it must be there to show how bad a persecution complex you microsoft fanboys have.

Re:Let's see... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17083138)

As trite as the word "fanboy" has become, thank you sir for at least not spelling it "fanboi."

Re:Let's see... (1)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 7 years ago | (#17083308)

Considering how rabidly defensive your post is

Er, no. In fact, if I actually went to any trouble to scrape up the Kill Bill comments that usually come up when discussing him or his wealth or how he's giving it away, the actual quotes would be far more rabid than my hypothetical ones. The rabid reaction, which I'm looking to shame (for once!) into just chilling out, comes like clockwork from his critics here. Everyone here knows it, and anyone choosing from a thousand daily contributions here to post that particular articles knows it and knows that the flamefest is good for page views and advertising revenue. You know it, too.

Fair play (5, Informative)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 7 years ago | (#17082772)

For all the crap he gets here, its never been about the money with Bill. He lives in relative modesty for his income and has always maintained that his kids would only inherit a small portion of his wealth with the bulk to be used for charitable causes.

Re:Fair play (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17083046)

There's no doubt that he's doing a good thing with his philanthropy, and it certainly is a lot more than most wealthy people do.

However, when you have that much money, does a few billion really make any difference? He could give away 99% of his assets and still have more than what most people have. Sure, he's doing a good thing, but he's not doing so much that he actually needs to make sacrifices to do it. He has the luxury of being able to give that much away without consequence to himself. (A "small portion" of his wealth is still in the millions.)

Re:Fair play (1)

mephistophyles (974697) | more than 7 years ago | (#17083246)

I agree that it's never really been about the money with him, and kudos to him for that, but to say he lives in relative modesty (my beef is with the word relative) is going a tad far. He has put a large portion of his assets into his fund, but that doesn't mean he doesn't have any for himself, and who could blame him, it's HIS money afterall. However, happening upon an edition of MTV's cribs with Mr. Gates' home on it, I doubt that could be called modest compared to most people's homes. Just type in 'Bill Gates home' in google and you'll see what I mean. All this has nothing to do with how he spends his money, I personally believe he should invest more in something more along the lines of sustainable energy like nuclear fusion as opposed to HIV/AIDS, because this way he funds an advancement of science, which benefits mankind in the long run. But hey, that's me and I have no say in where the money goes, so what does it really matter, just wanted to point out that Mr. Gates lives pretty luxuriously, as well he may, he did earn the money (one way or other).

Bill Gates Assassinated By African Assassin (4, Funny)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | more than 7 years ago | (#17082780)

Suspect says: we want our money now! (Dateline Redmond, WA January 2007)

-b.

Why. (5, Insightful)

OrangeStar (820331) | more than 7 years ago | (#17082790)

This move makes perfect sense. Many people will argue that they should save and spread the money out, spending the interest. But this idea is going to spend the money on infastructure, research, food, whatever. The interest will be the results of the action. It doesn't make sense to save for the future when there are problems to be solved today.

lol (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17082796)

His kids must be pissed off.

What I think Bill Should Do (5, Insightful)

ThomasFlip (669988) | more than 7 years ago | (#17082808)

Is build renewable energy infrastructure. With 50+ billion, you could put a huge dent on fossil fuel burning, help curb global warming, and even make some money. Yeah I think aids and the rest is bad, but there won't be any aids to treat around equitorial regions if nobody is living there anymore! 50+ billion builds a lot of solar/nuclear/wind/tidal power.

Re:What I think Bill Should Do (1, Troll)

Sinbios (852437) | more than 7 years ago | (#17082948)

Yes, he should improve the lives of people already relative well off by spending millions on issues only rich people worry about, while people in third world countries die of common diseases that can be cured with $0.2's worth of medicine.

Re:What I think Bill Should Do (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17083104)

1. The effects of climate change are likely to fall disproportionately on the third world

2. Providing energy (via renewables) to the third world would enable them to better their lives in a number of ways

Ideally dealing with AIDS, Malaria AND climate change would be the best all-round solution.

Re:What I think Bill Should Do (1)

Boreras (1000123) | more than 7 years ago | (#17083116)

By helping investing greener energy, the bad energy will get cheaper, resulting in cheaper energy for those third-world countries, but that isn't the point. It's about when those third world countries finally get richer, by increasing health, and those who have AIDS will be capable of buying medicine on their own, there is a good solution for long-term energy, and not a world that doesn't have enough energy to provide all, which will result in the rich getting richer, and the poor getting poorer. It will help those people long-term, but yeah, it will also help us, or we will all be running Sun extra-cheap-on-energy computers! That's what I think at least.

Re:What I think Bill Should Do (3, Interesting)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#17083224)

Cheap energy costs about $1000/KW (yeah, yeah, $1/W, but the quotes are all in KW) to install, so $50 billion translates into about 50 GW of power, a huge number no doubt. To put it in perspective, the most recent estimate a bit of googling spits out for yearly, worldwide energy consumption is 338 exajoules, which about 11000 Gigawatt-Years. That's a really huge number.

Given that $50 billion represents about 2 days worth of economic activity in the US alone, it isn't real important what they do with this particular $50 billion, especially in relation to a task as monumental as providing energy for a global civilization.

Re:What I think Bill Should Do (4, Informative)

sakusha (441986) | more than 7 years ago | (#17083424)

Is build renewable energy infrastructure.

Funny you should mention that. He's doing just the opposite. Gates just bought 10% of PNM Resources, a gas and electric utility in Arizona. They don't do renewable energy.

Gates also owns major portions of Home Depot, Canadian National Railway Co, Republic Services (a garbage hauling company), several TV networks, Four Seasons Hotels, Berkshire Hathaway, and several Big Pharmaceutical companies. This is not the profile of an enlightened investor. These are the investments any Robber Baron would make to diversify his holdings.

Keep your eye on Cascade Investments LLC, that's Gates' personal holding company. He's still building his personal fortune, leveraging his monopoly into more areas.

Good, but why buy Newspapers Today? (4, Interesting)

twitter (104583) | more than 7 years ago | (#17082816)

It's great to see them want to spend ALL of their money on charity and that they will liquidate their assets to do so. A cynical person might say that any large pile of money will attract people more interested in themselves than the charity's mission. Making the organization spend them money will insure the money goes to the immediate purpose.

Given such intents, it's strange to see the foundation money spent buying independent newspapers [forbes.com] . The Contra Costa Times and the San Jose Mercury News don't seem to have much to do with AIDS.

Re:Good, but why buy Newspapers Today? (1)

spectecjr (31235) | more than 7 years ago | (#17083014)

Given such intents, it's strange to see the foundation money spent buying independent newspapers. The Contra Costa Times and the San Jose Mercury News don't seem to have much to do with AIDS.

Although I have no idea why they're doing it, if I had a foundation, I might buy a few independent newspapers so that we at least have a couple of independent companies left to provide the news. They're all getting bought up by Tribune media, Rupert Murdoch and Knight-Ridder.

give it back to registered customers (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17082888)

after all, it's their money.
So, give it back Mr. Gates.

Actually, I don't think he should give it back, because the Gates foundation can probably do more good with it.
However, I thought I'd throw that line in there, as it is exactly the same line the Republicans used against Bill Clinton when he turned the deficit into a surplus ("give it back Mr. President" were the exact words of one GOP idiot congresswoman who conveniently forgot that the President didn't have the power to do that, while her own GOP controlled congress did).

Never forget. (-1, Troll)

trudyscousin (258684) | more than 7 years ago | (#17082938)

I'm never going to forget whence the money came. I don't believe washing one's hands in a basin of money is the way to get rid of the stains.

Re:Never forget. (2, Insightful)

bheer (633842) | more than 7 years ago | (#17083028)

Yeah, because we all know Bill's money is stained with ill-gotten gains from drugs, gun-running or carcinogenic products. Not. Sometimes you *can* carry a metaphor too far, but all I see it stained by is the egos of several Silicon Valley types who couldn't compete with hard-edged marketing. Frankly, I think the Silicon Valley types will survive the humiliation.

Idiotic Foundations (3, Insightful)

Baldrson (78598) | more than 7 years ago | (#17082944)

Any rich guy who leaves his money in a foundation rather than in escrow for a set of objective prize awards, such as the X-Prize, has no recognition of the failed history of foundations.

Hell, the folks at the Ford Foundation are proud of the fact that they call Henry Ford "the grave spinner".

Indeed, the Gates Foundation is probably already failing to get the results they should because their failure to use objective criteria for prize awards creates a systemic malincentive: rewarding proposal writing rather than getting real results.

Re:Idiotic Foundations (1)

Helios1182 (629010) | more than 7 years ago | (#17083102)

I'm not sure if this is a troll or not. His foundation does get results, and requires them in order to continue receiving funds. Gates is a shrewd businessman, he isn't wasting his wealth. If people want the money the have to prove they can use it effectively.

R.I.C.O. Gates' Ill-gotten Gains (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17083114)


R.I.C.O. He stole the money from us. Don't forget it!

What, Gates is suddenly ethical? Don't believe it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17083124)

Check out Microsoft's wrongdoing: http://malfy.org/ [malfy.org]

Watch my left hand... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17083132)

... while my right hand takes your wallet.

responsible spending? (1)

amigabill (146897) | more than 7 years ago | (#17083150)

Can that amount of money be spent responsibly in that amount of time? I hope it all gets used for research and the good stuff, not fluffed on new carpeting for the lab offices because there isn't enough useful equipment or scientists to spend it on...

I've got a vote for you now... (1)

Thaidog (235587) | more than 7 years ago | (#17083176)

That must have hurt.

Mwaha (4, Funny)

teknokracy (660401) | more than 7 years ago | (#17083204)

So wait.... we have to kill Bill and Melinda to speed up the process??

Repent! Repent! (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 7 years ago | (#17083268)

and sin no more!

Bad new for you Bill, there is no heaven.

Now that "Profit! isn't the final frontier anymore (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17083282)

1. Found hueg billion-dollar company
2. Get massive profit
3. ????
4. Philantropy!
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